This Gunning Fog index is a tool that estimates the years of formal education a person needs to understand a text on the first reading. For instance, a fog index of 12 requires the reading level of a high school senior (around 18 years old).
The fog index is used when there is a need to confirm that words used can be understood easily by an intended audience. In Public Speaking, if you were to craft and write every single word of your presentation (not recommended, but for some, it is a useful process), paste here the entire speech in the analysis box and let the website calculate the “FOG” Index. Then benchmark it against the typology of the audience you are about to address. (http://gunning-fog-index.com/index.html)
Winston Churchill who had an impeccable and sophisticated command of English was averaging a FOG index of 6 for the speeches he wrote and delivered during World War II. He was a Country Leader, a Commander at war, his words had to be understood by all.
Now, we are no longer crafting our messages in the likes of Winston, we must fit our messages into a digital format that is “Twittable” material: Buzzwords, Hashtags are our new weapons of mass communication.
In 1997, I started a Sales position in an International Company which was processing and distributing Financial Databases. On my first week, I remember vividly being in the meeting room, with the CEO, the CFO, the Head of Sales and my colleagues. I was being attacked by a swirling tornado of jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords. I was longing for leaders able to speak simply, with a FOG index of 6. At the time, I felt shut out from the conversation.
Be aware that Corporate or Industry Jargon exclude members of your audience.
If you want to influence, to impact, to be credible - Chose the right words. Make sure you are understood by all.
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