What is Jargon?

Star Trek popularized Klingon, the fictional language spoken by a fictional alien race of the same name in the series.

Most often, it can be heard in line a Comic Con or as part of an inside joke on The Big Bang Theory.

Here in the real world, however, it may feel like you are hearing it elsewhere. That is because of jargon and “industry speak.”

While not a fictional language, when you use jargon or industry speak in your communications – be it in a marketing communications campaign, media relations opportunity, speech or just with friends – you will undoubtedly have people look at you like you are speaking Klingon to them.

That is because jargon (and industry speak) is the collective term for the words, acronyms and other terminology used at your job, within your brand, in your family, within your industry and even among your favorite sports teams. The problem with it, especially if trying to effectively communicate to those outside of the particular group who use the jargon with you, is it alienates people. It puts a barrier between you and your communications goals. It turns you into a Klingon (and not Worf, the cool Klingon from Star Trek).

So, how do you avoid it? Some advice:

When preparing communications materials, pretend your mom is in the audience. Or a friend. Or a sixth grader. Will they understand what you are trying to convey?

Use simple words and phrases.

Avoid long (and run-on) sentences.

Using an acronym? Maybe don’t – at least without explaining it in a clear, concise non-jargony manner.

Considering buzzwords? In most cases, don’t!

Written by
at Oct 22, 2021

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