1: Be fluent in the language of your audience

1: Be fluent in the language of your audience

Over the coming weeks, months, years (and decades), I’m going to be writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.

One of the roles a product manager or product marketing manager plays is to act as a translator between different groups of people.  Sometimes this can be in a literal sense, if your responsibilities span different countries, but more generally this means translating between the market, Sales, Marketing and Development as a minimum. 

You could add any other department in your company to that list; you’ll most likely need their help at some point.

As with foreign languages, you won’t get anywhere just by speaking MORE LOUDLY AND SLOWLY to convey your point.  Rather, you need to invest some time and effort into learning and comprehending the language of your audience.  The first step is therefore to listen.

You need to listen to how your customers talk about their industry, processes, problems and goals

You need to listen to how your customers talk about their industry, processes, problems and goals.  Remember how they describe things; this will become your vocabulary when you speak to them next.  Understand their priorities also.  Only then can you start to grasp why they need to perform a task in a particular way.

Once you become fluent in your audience’s language, both parties will exchange information more readily and find the experience more rewarding.  You’ll also find that your ability to influence is enhanced because you’ll have greater credibility with the audience.

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The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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