“Jargon (noun) — specialized technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject; a characteristic language of a particular group.”
Communication is the touchstone of great business. Communicating with clients, co-workers, freelancers, suppliers and the office dog daily is necessary and important for success. You know what isn’t necessary or important for success if not used daily? Jargon.
Jargon is both the greatest and the worst invention of modern linguistics. When surrounded by like-minded individuals who all have the relevant background knowledge required to understand and correctly utilise jargon, it saves time and effort. No lengthy explanations are required to define a complex or industry-specific term or process. But what happens when jargon gets out of control? When talking to co-workers, managers or clients it is vital for your message to be clear. Confounding and confusing with ever-increasingly beguiling statements rife with jargon helps no one.
When used correctly, jargon can demonstrate a deep understanding of a set of specialised subject matter. It can produce clarity. A good rule of thumb to abide by: only use jargon when you have to. Peppering speeches, meetings and other business communications with too much jargon muddies understanding. If your target audience have to re-read your sentence multiple times then perhaps your underlying meaning has been lost.
At Hive we pride ourselves on being approachable communicators. We interact with people from all walks of life with widely varying levels of marketing, design and web experience. Managing our use of language and jargon is important to help our clients feel comfortable and provide a foundation of trust that we can build a working relationship on. Our clients should be able to phone us and ask a question about the progress of new functionality on their app, about their 6 page brochure design or their marketing strategy that leaves them feeling supported, and more importantly, understood.
Craig and Dave Yewman, cofounders of Elevator Speech, a communication consultancy based in Oregon, spoke to Fast Company about how to improve our communication. They believe we would all be better communicators if we spoke like we do on the weekend.
“When we go to a party on Saturday night, we don’t walk up to a group of people and say, ‘Let me tell you how I optimized my calendar last Wednesday to monetize my business. You tell people a story about what happened. They laugh and ask questions. Then, they go across the room and tell someone else,” he says.
Good business is about sharing knowledge in a way that all parties involved can understand, and using unnecessary jargon prevents that vital understanding from taking place. Hopefully anyone reading this will take the time to consider their own usage of jargon. Don’t worry if you do, as most of us are already good at ‘weekend talk’ due to the large amount of communication we do outside of work hours. Craig did have 4 pieces of advice to help this process:
- Pay attention to how you speak
- Use simple language to make people care
- Stop using words that aren’t in the dictionary
- Use examples
Moran, G. (2014, March 26). 4 ways to never use jargon again. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3028165/4-ways-to-never-ever-use-jargon-again
Trapp, R. (2016, Feb 24). Why You Should Avoid Jargon and Talk like a Leader. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogertrapp/2016/02/24/why-you-should-avoid-jargon-and-talk-like-a-leader/#2dd088b72be6
Bearman, S. (2012, April 19). How to use (and not abuse) Jargon, Slang and Idioms. Retrieved from https://writeitsideways.com/how-to-use-not-abuse-jargon-slang-and-idioms/