Jargonitis

January 15, 2017

A key to making your content "sticky" is making information accessible, not just easy to find but easy to comprehend. Unfortunately, too often, "behind the firewall" mentality rules and what ends facing the outside world is too much cyber-speak, geek-speak or some other species of too-technical argot that may well turn off just the people it's trying to impress.

Of course, the business world isn't the only place one finds misleading or over-applied buzzwords. Mainstream news outlets are full of words like "warlord", "drug kingpin", and "ghetto." Each serves as both a shorthand and an indicator of current popular passions. Applied indiscriminately, as they often are, they can create false impressions and shortchange the reader who is trying to decipher a complex world.

How do you decide whether a particular term is acceptable industry usage or simply unnecessary verbiage? The conflict can be easier to mediate if you begin with two steps: defining the intended audience and then examining the term in question for appropriateness to that audience.

Fortunately, the first step is increasingly easy to accomplish. Chances are your business and your Web site provide considerable detail about your audience's identity in the aggregate and even as individuals. But behind the composite portrait this provides may lurk much more complex beings -- a fair number of whom may NOT be up to speed on every aspect of your business!

Once you've reminded yourself who your readers are it's time to look at what jargon may be creeping into your communications. In a future blog post I will drill into my favorite "offenses" with some suggestions for how to do it better!

 

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