I’m sure most of us have seen a proposal, email or any number of business documents that are so filled with jargon that they have either lost their core purpose or are so convoluted that they become completely useless. Jargon is defined by dictionary.com as:
“Language that is characterized by uncommon or pretentious vocabulary and convoluted syntax and is often vague in meaning”
“The language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group”
Jeff Goldblum starred in an apartments.com commercial that perfectly illustrates the absurdity of using nothing but jargon. Check it out here:
[youtube width=”640″ height=”350″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zi8zwN57Ug[/youtube]
So how can we avoid being Jeff Goldblum’s “Brad Bellflower” and speak in an intelligible fashion without sounding too plain or boring.
Commonsense solution is just to use less jargon in your writing and if you have to use jargon be sure you are able to define the jargon, just like using acronyms or abbreviations, define the first time you make mention of the phrase or word. If you are unable to define the jargon you are using, that should be your first clue that you probably shouldn’t be using it. Here are some examples best left out of professional business writing:
- Best in class
- Industry leading
- World class
- Maximum efficiency
Use “Plain English”
Jargon can also leave your reader confused about the meaning of your words or just plain put off by the arrogance of your jargon. Claiming your product is world class when you have no data or information to back up that claim can seem brash and overbearing. We can guarantee the purpose of your document is not aimed at confusing the reader so why include wording that is vague, undefined and leaves you open for more questions and less answers.
Understand your Audience’s Jargon
In some cases the document you are working is defined and targeted at a very specific expert audience who may use certain professional jargon in their everyday business life. In this case, using that jargon would be accepted and encouraged but remember they have a clear understanding of what that jargon means to them and you should be sure to follow those definitions exactly. In the end remember the purpose of your document and Focus, Collaborate and Create.