The truth about jargon and its startling effect
Which piece of advice would you be more likely to remember after a visit with your doctor: the sentence with or without jargon?
Dr. Jargon: Decrease your lipoproteins and glucose, increase intake of herbaceous plants with water-soluble vitamins, and increase your calisthenics to reduce your BMI and comorbidities.
Dr. ClearWing: Cut back on red meats and sugar, increase your intake of leafy greens and exercise to lose weight and lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Did you glaze over when Dr. Jargon was talking? I hope none of that guy’s patients flatline…
But seriously, jargon and acronyms are popular no matter what industry you work in. We’re all guilty of using them.
Industry-speak has its place. It can help people learn detailed pieces of information and exchange it quickly amongst peers. But that’s where it should stay.
Have you ever met someone who made you feel like you needed a pocket dictionary just to follow the conversation? When it was over, you may have wondered what you actually talked about. All those words were forgotten and you may have decided NOT to engage further with that person or their business.
Do you speak Jargon?
While it’s easy to be critical of others with a robust vocabulary filled with industry-talk and acronyms, it can be hard to recognize you’re doing the same thing. Even worse, to your customers. (Or maybe you cringe when you use the word “synergy” with a prospective client…even Dr. ClearWing slips up sometimes.)
Business leaders are often entrenched in their industry and meetings with colleagues. It can be tough to realize or admit the need to change their language for different audiences.
Clear messaging for all
Speeches, elevator pitches and marketing content should be as devoid of acronyms and jargon as possible. You should keep your language simple with a general audience, but even with a highly educated audience. People with advanced degrees are still hard-pressed for time. The simpler the message, the easier to process. The quicker to understand, the higher the chance they’ll get your message.
This is something I’ve driven home with my content teams over the years. For general audiences, we shoot for writing on a seventh or eighth-grade level. We measure that with the Flesch Kincaid Readability test. It takes different things into account, like how many words are in a sentence and the length of each word.
It’s hard to grab attention and once you have it, it’s fleeting. The easier your content is to digest, the more likely you’ll be able to communicate your key messages, even if your ideal customer has an M.D.
At ClearWing, we work with our clients to reduce jargon and acronym-filled content so your messages are crisp, clear and easy to digest. So remember, clear messaging saves lives!
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