As a film-lover, I spend quite a lot of time reading reviews of the latest films. But one thing that has started to really annoy me lately has been this need to write reviews using big words (or…really irk me freshly, has been this incessant need to transcribe reviews using capacious quarrel, for anyone who actually likes jargon!).
One example was a review that I read for “Gravity” which described the film as being “unconvoluted”. Now really, what is wrong with the word “uncomplicated” or even “simple”?
As a writer and as a reader, jargon is one of my pet hates about not only content, but novels, newspaper articles and virtually any form of written “entity”, because this kind of writing requires sitting at our desks with Google and/or a Thesaurus on permanent stand-by just to know what you are trying to say. To be honest, we really cannot be bothered. It makes what should be a quick and easy task – reading a blog post, or article – into a huge chore, and we don’t have the time, or patience, for that.
The question really is: how do you jargon-bust your content? Here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Are You a Jargon Fiend?
Does your content contain jargon, that you perhaps hadn’t realised about? The chances are, you probably are. Therefore, you should ask yourself a few questions:
- Does your content contain words that are particularly long?
- Do you sit with a Thesaurus, trying to make yourself sound smarter? (Don’t be embarrassed, we have all done this!)
- Do you use clichés? This article from The Telegraph has some great examples of the worst business-based clichés.
- Do you use a lot of abbreviations? What about Acronyms?
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you are guilty of creating jargon. However, we’ll give you a break if you explain what your abbreviations mean somewhere within the content.
2. Write Your Content
Now that we’ve established that you are a Jargon Fiend, we can help the healing process, so go ahead, start writing your content; only, step away from the Thesaurus because you don’t need it – just yet.
Just write how you would normally write, and create the content that you intended to, before you started reading this post.
3. Reverse The Jargon
When I was at Uni, I would sit writing essays with the Thesaurus permanently open trying to encourage my Uni Lecturers to think that I was smarter than I really was, and that I actually knew what I was talking about.
However, when you are trying to promote your services or brand to the consumer who is just an ordinary person, not a Business Executive, you don’t need to make yourself look smarter with big words. What you have to say is far more important than cramming your content with ridiculous long words, because the average person isn’t going to have a clue what you are talking about.
Sit down with a Thesaurus, and instead of trying to make words longer, try to simplify them to words that are easier to understand.
Be Careful: Don’t patronise your audience, you don’t need to over-simplify things, because your audience aren’t stupid either. Therefore, this is where having a strong understanding of your target audience is going to be absolutely key. What kind of person are you pitching to? What kind of education have they had? Where are they in their life? How old are they? The answers to these questions will help you to tailor the language towards them.
4. Let Someone Read Your Content
The problem that a lot of us face, is that we know a lot about our business, and it is difficult to get into the head of someone who doesn’t know our business. Unfortunately, this is where you need to be to really write jargon-free content.
The solution is to literally get into the head of someone who doesn’t know anything about your business, other than perhaps the absolute basics. This could be your Mum, your Gran, your ten-year-old son, your best friend, or even your cousins-sisters-best-friends-aunt.
Note, that they don’t necessarily have to be within your target audience, but this could help.
Get them to read your content, and to mark up anything that they don’t understand.
You don’t need to do this with all of your content – because that would be incredibly time-consuming – however, doing it with a few pages can be a great learning experience, as you are able to establish where you are going wrong, so that you can make your content clearer for your audience.
What are your thoughts on Jargon?
Do you love it, or hate it?
Has Jargon ever put you off using a company/brand?