Marijane Funess July 10, 2014 | 06:04:36

PR Pros: 5 Ways To Jettison The Jargon

Every industry has its jargon. B2B tech folks like their models to be “scalable” and e-marketers want promotions that focus at the “bottom of the funnel.” At its best jargon provides shorthand to let insiders communicate with ease. At its worst, some phrases bastardize the meaning of words and confer an air of truly unwarranted self-importance.  When deciding which words to use in business, we ask you to consider this line from the 80s classic “One Thing Leads to Another,” which asks, “Why don’t they do what they say, say what they mean?”

Adopt only those terms for which there are no substitutions. Obviously in a medical or technical field, specific terms are necessary to communicate properly. Be smart about learning and using those words correctly.

Less is more. True in so many business circumstances, but particularly when crafting a written or verbal recommendation. Make sure you are explaining what is recommended as economically and clearly as possible. Always edit written and oral presentations for brevity.

Persuade rather than impress. As you are writing, read your content aloud. See if you are trying too hard to impress with industry buzzwords and “marketing-ese” rather than creating sound arguments and rationales designed to result in a particular strategic outcome.

Say what you really mean. This can be hard given that some words in common usage are misleading. For example, a media “exclusive” actually means “first crack” and may confuse a client or prospect who interprets it literally. And I’ve always been bothered by “out-of-pocket” meant as “unavailable.” (To me, it will always describe reimbursable expenses paid by an agency and billed to the client.)

Communicate with empathy. Put yourself in your reader’s or listener’s shoes. Do you really want to come off as a showy know-it-all, forcing your audience to scramble to Google what you just said? Or do you want them to feel that you’re providing a very clear, easy-to-grasp message that puts you all on “the same page?” Oops, jargon alert!

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