Written by Sofie Skouras
So, if technology is created for human need, why do so many businesses fail to communicate with their audience – as, human beings? Instead, they often opt for meaningless jargon, that no one really understands.
Just because someone goes to work doesn’t mean they fundamentally change; perhaps they might look slightly smarter, but who they are, what they find interesting and how they consume news doesn’t change as soon as they walk in the office.
We’re all guilty of doing this. For instance, I recently emailed a new joiner asking them to “whizz that across to me”; the reply I rightly received was, “does that mean send?”
I appreciate technical language has its place and not using it can be hard. But, just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean businesses should take this route. Also, if you’re saying exactly what everyone else is, how will you ever stand out?
The corporate world’s guilty pleasure is overcomplicating things with fancy words. But consumers are becoming numb to this.
The classic reference that might spring to mind on this is the Friends episode when Joey uses a thesaurus to make his letter sound smarter. He swaps out “They are warm, nice people with big hearts” for “They are human repossessing homo sapiens with full sized aortic pumps”.
And this highlights exactly what can happen when businesses communicate this way: crossed wires. Take a conversation about PR with a business owner versus the same conversation with a marketing person. A successful entrepreneur might not know what ‘newsjacking’ or an ‘op-ed’ is, for example. It’s important to tailor your message for different audiences.
It’s journalists too. You might think a tech reporter knows the ins and outs of the blockchain, for instance. But chances are, they don’t. Most reporters usually cover a broad remit these days so can’t know everything about every sector. And if they don’t understand what you’re talking about and you haven’t bothered to put it simply, they certainly won’t waste their time trying to get their head around it.
As George Orwell rightly put it:
“Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent”
It’s our role as communication professionals to encourage and push clients to communicate in a much more human and simple way. Yes, your target audience might be technically minded and know what you’re talking about, but what about all the other prospects?
If your website copy only appeals to one group and ignores the others potential targets – how can you expect to grow?
We should think twice before sending that email riddled with meaningless jargon and think about what words we use and if it can be put in a simpler way.
This means no more circling back, synergy, COP and ‘disruptive technologies’.
Of course, all New Year’s resolutions are tricky to keep – but we’ll be doing our best to make this one stick, and I hope you do too. Happy New Year!
If you’re guilty of this or the company you work at is and you’d like some expert advice, please do get in touch about company messaging sessions – we’d love to help: firstname.lastname@example.org.