Okay, some artistic license has been used here, but you get the point.
What Is Jargon?
Jargon is like a type of shorthand between a people in a group. It is often words that are meaningless outside of a certain context. Of course, it can be used effectively. The jargon we refer to is those sound bites – those empty, boring and lifeless words that consume airtime in useless meetings or presentations.
Don Watson – an esteemed Australian speechwriter – talks about ‘weasel words’. These are contrived words that have an ambiguous meaning and are designed to divert. They may sound impressive, but are in fact hollow and have no real substance. Politicians in particular twist language to obfuscate, distract and distort.
As someone working at the forefront of a complex and competitive industry, your job is to use words that have vitality, spice and colour – and create a connection between you and your clients so that they remember you, your business, your brand.
So how do you do it? There are 3 key ways to improve the way you communicate with your clients and colleagues:
1. Use Fresh Language
To really engage customers, colleagues or superiors, you need to be clever. Come up with fresh ways to make a point. ‘Pushing mud uphill with a kebab stick’ is a fun one we heard recently.
Find language that is different and use it to delight your audience. Find words and phrases that pop, capture your audience’s ear and reel them in. If you can find new ways to say things that compel people to stay attentive, your communication skills will skyrocket.
2. Use Inclusive Language
A big problem with jargon is that is can alienate especially in the finance industry, where complex terminology is the norm. Of course, at times jargon does have value. For example, if you’re working with a group of scientists, they will use shorthand to communicate quicker.
The issue is when jargon loses its effect. Too many of us use fancy, flowery words to cover the fact that we don’t know what we’re talking about. But if you don’t know what you’re on about, neither will your audience!
And when you use words in this way, you risk alienating the ‘peripheral players’ – the people who aren’t in the inner sanctum and don’t understand the technical terms.
So stick to the basics, be authentic and ensure everyone understands your explanation. That way, your clients will feel included and your language will really make a mark.
3. Cut The Clutter
Have you ever been on a cross-country conference call and someone says, “Yes, it’s Clive here from WA. In terms of the discussion on that last point that was on the table there, I just want to say from our perspective or maybe from my perspective in particular, that on consideration in terms of the conversation and I talk about this from a strategic perspective, I just want to say that I agree.”
Clive agrees. That’s all he had to say. Not only is lengthy language and cluttered conversation a waste of time, it instantly repels the listener.
Remember, less is more. The best communicators speak in punchy phrases without fluff. Allow words to set the scene and convey your point. Invite the imagination into play and let people fill in the gaps.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your message to around 6 words or fewer. Then use pauses and silences for impact. The rest is just packaging.
And remember – the way you deliver your content determines how it will influence how your audiences thinks, feels and behaves.