convey to compel 6: jargon

True experts explain simply.

Those big, long, highly articulate words you think make you sound smart are actually just hindering your thoughts from penetrating your audience. Unless they belong to a very special club.

That club is very small. It’s the club of experts. The club of experts on any given topic is small. This is why we should avoid using jargon when possible.

What exactly is jargon?

Here’s google’s official definition:

Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.

Now, we need to distinguish between the two types of jargon we’re talking about. If you want to use the type of cultural slang that resonates with your market, then go for it. So long as you’re talking to them specifically, it can serve you well.

We’re more concerned with technical jargon: the words that experts of a specific industry or topic use, which other less knowledgeable people don’t fully understand.

Don’t use these words unless you’re speaking to those experts (in which case they’ll save you time).

If you aren’t speaking to experts, then yes you might sound smart, but you absolutely will sound foreign. Are you trying to sound smart, or to compel and convey value?

When can you utter technical jargon to a non-expert audience?

When you’re actually explaining what the jargon term means. At this point, you’re educating your audience and giving them value. This will allow you to communicate more efficiently with them moving forward. Until you’re certain that they fully understand the technical term, don’t use it.

The key is to be very aware of what your audience does and does not know. This requires a constant state of empathy which takes practice. It’s easier to do in writing because you don’t have to be aware in the present. Start applying empathy to your writing and you’ll find it easier to develop constant empathy while speaking:

Get in the habit of editing your writing and asking yourself: Do they know what that means? At which point of my immersion into this field did I know what this means? Are they at that point yet? If not, how can I best explain it to them before using it regularly? 

Practicing empathy to help your audience understand you is essential to convey your value and compel them. 

We’ll get back to this topic in our later post about “questions,” and how we can use them to make people pay attention and even like us more. Until then lay off the technical jargon unless you’re talking to other jargonauts.