The effort to communicate effectively is a double-edged sword. We want our peers and clients to share our enthusiasm for our ideas. But we often struggle to find the best way to convey them. Big words and complex concepts might make it seem as though we’re confident, capable, and important. But if people don’t understand us, how can we earn their trust?
In short, we can’t.
Efforts to reach key audiences often fall victim to self-sabotage. The weapon: jargon.
Don’t leave audiences behind
Jargon is loosely defined as a specialized vocabulary for a particular niche, often used as a communications shortcut, that can be difficult for people outside that niche to understand.
Most companies and brands have multiple audiences representing a spectrum of people. Jargon automatically excludes some of those people. So why do we use it?
For a number of reasons. For starters, it’s habitual. It represents a common vocabulary that helps us act quickly among colleagues. It conveys authority on a particular subject area. And in some cases, it can serve as a distraction from an awkward or unpleasant topic. (Does anyone else find the phrase “reduction in force” offensive?)
How jargon holds us back
Those are just a few reasons why we use jargon. Here are a few reasons why we shouldn’t.
- It makes communication more difficult.
- It creates obstacles to discussion of important matters.
- It alienates employees and prospective clients.
- It makes people less likely to trust us.
How do we stop using jargon and start making sense?
Write and speak using language that is brief, simple, and powerful.
The most effective content answers the well-known 5 Ws.
It is also:
- Engaging (sparks people’s curiosity)
- Navigable (easy for people to find what they need)
- Credible (uses context and insightful details to earn trust)
Less is more
Truly powerful communication is even trickier. We instinctively rely on a number of rhetorical devices to make our point. This approach can help our ideas stick—but if we’re not careful, we might accidentally become the next unfortunate meme. Here are some tried and true ways to communicate more effectively.
- Craft short, simple sentences.
- Make every word count.
- Build a logical flow of ideas.
- Show, don’t tell. Use vivid, descriptive language.
- Answer the question: What does this mean?
- Remember what your audience needs to know and wants to see.
- Convey enthusiasm and passion.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? If it actually were, company leaders wouldn’t need expert communicators to help shape internal and external brand narratives. These experts quickly master the subject matter, the situation, and the desired outcome, because they know that pretty prose isn’t enough. Great content also must help a brand achieve its goals.
Do you need help transforming your communications from a jumble of jargon into a portfolio of powerful prose? Contact us today to learn how we can help you connect with your audiences and build brand loyalty with content that delivers.