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Cut the Jargon!


by Emily Soares Proctor

No jargon at ECAWA 2009
Image by grumble_bum via Flickr

Making the transition from an expert in your field who speaks with other experts, to one who writes or speaks about your industry to the uninitiated can feel daunting. But if you are a businessperson with a specialized background who wants to reach out to potential clients and make a connection, it’s important to speak their language. To make sure that you don’t lose your non-specialized audience, follow the “abstain or explain” rule when it comes to using jargon. If you need to use words from your industry—and it’s always important to teach your audience some of your terminology—be sure to define what they mean.

Teaching in any capacity is exciting, so enjoy the opportunity to explain what you do, and allow yourself to be creative. Without the potential criticism of peers and other experts, you don’t have to be as academic or exacting in your language when writing for potential clients and customers—in fact you shouldn’t be. The burden of academic writing in any sphere is the requirement to source and support. Factual assertion should always be accurate and supportable, but the relief of writing for a non-technical audience about your business is that you can talk about your own experience and passion for the subject. Exploring what makes it fascinating to yourself and others—without endless footnotes—should be a pleasure. So relax and enjoy!

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