Avoiding Jargon and Corporate-Speak

Avoiding Jargon and Corporate-Speak

Have you ever come across a website where the About Us page says something like this?

Our value lies in providing you with a full turnkey solution that encompasses support, analysis, and continuous improvement. We proudly employ TQM and strive to optimize our quality assurance levels to satisfy our valued customers, as evidenced by our increased dominant market share and…

In a word, Yuck. Why not just speak English? I mean, really—who actually talks like this?

There is a tendency, it seems, to indulge one’s penchant for jargon—one might say, a predisposition towards an individual’s cant of choice. Mind you, this assertion is not ipse dixit; the evidence is mountainous, given the pedantic disciplines of medicine, engineering, and computer science alone…

Pardon me; I just slipped into jargon mode myself. Now, if you happen to be an English major or professor, maybe that stilted mess made sense. But an average reader will probably move on at the first indication that the writing is overly (or unnecessarily) not written with him or her in mind.

Here’s the point. If you want a good grade, you should write to please the professor. If you want to sell widgets, you should write your website or other sales copy to entice people to buy widgets. You have to do this at their level, not yours. They may not have a doctorate in widgetology, and your industry-specific terms, far from impressing them, will drive them to your competitors.

So, when writing copy for your product or service, remember:

Talk to your customers at their level:
This would not be at the level of yourself and your peers, who happen to be experts (unless, of course, your customers are also experts).

Avoid jargon:
If someone sees several unfamiliar terms, they’re going to likely go somewhere that will tell them the same thing in plain English. Sometimes jargon is unavoidable, but avoid it when you can.