Don’t Let Jargon Get in the Way of your Communication

Whatever industry you’re in, you have jargon and you have your own set of inscrutable acronyms. Technology may be the worst, but you see some glaring examples in financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and military and the public sector, just to name a few.

And that’s fine, really. When you are communicating with people in your own industry, you do tend to talk a little different language. Why would you always have to say “return on investment” or “total cost of ownership” if you both understand the shorthand ROI or TCO?

The problem, of course, is when you start to communicate with people who may not know that industry dialect as well as you do. What is crystal clear to you may just leave them puzzled and unable to follow what you’re saying or writing.

So it’s important to never assume that your entire audience shares the depth of your industry awareness and modes of communication as you put out news announcements, blog posts, email newsletters, and social media posts. Certainly, some in your audience will follow every bit of it, but there may be people newer to the industry, or journalists who don’t always cover your industry in depth, and you don’t want to confuse them.

Read the Wall Street Journal for a good illustration of this. While the newspaper isn’t edited quite as well as it used to be, they still keep their diverse audience in mind. Notice that they don’t overdo the use of acronyms or insider lingo, even when they are writing their core financial news. They’ll not only spell out the words associated with acronyms, but even define the terms as they go.

And you know what? Those readers who already know the terms and the acronyms don’t really notice that. But the people who didn’t know them before aren’t left in the dark and can pick up on the story as they go.

You want everyone to be able to understand what it is that you do and sell. There’s definitely a place for the insider talk and reliance on acronyms, but when it comes to putting your story out to a broader range of media and potential customers, you want to emphasize inclusivity, not exclusivity.