I cringe a little bit--at least on the inside--when someone asks me if I can "dumb down" what they've written. If the point of thought leadership is to lead the discussion, you should never aim to make your work somehow less salient.
Truly great conversational writing is accessible--not oversimplified.
I advise on and edit all kinds of content--brand messaging, website content, collateral, articles, social media posts, books, you name it. Our goal is often to feature the individual or company's expertise, while utilizing a conversational tone.
How does this work? Here are some do's and don'ts to keep in mind:
Allow yourself to write less formally. This might mean a shift from third to first person, including contractions, or adding a bit more personality into examples.
Polish. Don't confuse conversational with fast; spend the same amount of time eliminating typos and proofreading.
Lean on industry-speak. Challenge yourself to avoid jargon. If you feel like you must include certain acronyms, be sure to define them so a broader audience could follow what you're saying.
Overcompensate and fall into "blog voice." In an attempt to sound conversational, people will sometimes shift into narrating. (You know what I mean?! They suddenly write all of these parentheticals like this to be relatable, am I right?!). If it's a key point, pull it out of parentheses and include it; if it's just a fun comment, see how the piece reads without it.
Of course, the "right" tone will vary from piece to piece. It will depend on your target audience as well as the publication or platform(s). You may be writing for highly informed peers or a customer with a cursory understanding of what you do. Your brand--and therefore brand platforms--may be quirky or irreverent. Your target publication may have a specific voice. Aim to demonstrate your insights in a clear, concise way; and you should be on the right track. And if you're feeling stuck, reach out to someone like me.