How to cut jargon and communicate with clarity

Does your writing resemble word salad? Here’s how to get your message across

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me”.

Devastating feedback from senior business journalist after reading the latest media release he’d received from me.

The phone pitch had gone well. I’d sold the story for a data analytics company and arranged for the journalist to tour their capital city Operations Intelligence Centre. The media release was sent to provide ‘further information’.

Instead, all it provided was confusion.

So how why had the phone pitch worked so well in telling the story, but the media release had failed miserably?

Keep it simple

‘real-time data monitoring’

‘high-speed analytics’

‘remote optimisation’

‘the quantum of the improvements’

‘Productivity-as-a-Service solution’

As I re-read the media release I realised that it was full of these buzzwords. None of which I had used during our phone conversation. I’d told this company’s story with easy-to-understand terms and phrases.

Don’t take the shortcut of explaining a complex issue or concept by resorting to jargon. You might understand what these terms mean, but your reader most likely will not.

Keep it simple to ensure you’re as clear as possible to help your readers understand.

Know your audience

Technical jargon provides a concise description to those who understand them. If you are communicating with an audience with a very high level of understanding then jargon may be appropriate. You don’t need to explain concepts over and over again. You will only insult them.

However, if you’re trying to communicate technical issues to a general audience then you need to ditch the jargon or at least explain what these buzzwords mean.Use this technique sparingly. Too many definitions will make your writing less engaging and more convoluted.

Give examples

Once the interview was actually underway the journalist kept asking the same question, over and over, “can you give me an example”. So specific, real world examples were given to explain or clarify what was being communicated.

So instead of writing ‘productivity improvement of 15 percent’ give a concrete example of what this actually means. In this case ‘productivity improvement’ meant that a mineral processing plan produced more metal over a 12 month period.

Giving examples helps readers to decode the buzzwords and understand what’s really going on. It also moves the tone to a more conversational one that readers will find more relatable.

Read your work out loud

Reading your work out loud will quickly catch you out if you’re using too much jargon or taking too long to explain something.

It will force you to be more economical with your words, shorten your sentences, and keep things moving. If while you’re reading you find yourself pausing mid-sentence, or paraphrasing what you are reading, then re-write it this way.

Turning technical jargon and complex issues into readable and relatable prose is not always easy. Even the professionals need reminding of this from time to time.

Talk to Elevate about streamlining your writing to ensure you communicate with clarity.

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