• Amber Vanderburg

Simplifying Jargon

Industries create jargon to act as shortcuts for understanding. Every industry has some variation of jargon. When speaking to other professionals in the industry, this is a way to clarify communication and simplify conversation.


If speaking to your team of cyber security professionals during a data breach or discussing credential stuffing or DDS or ransomware...it's much easier to use a understood term or verbiage to the concept rather than explaining every time.


However, if you are also going to discuss the same data breach with the C-suite executives rather than the cyber security team then the benefits of using jargon reverse in usefulness. We must understand the baseline knowledge of our audience when discerning the right time to use jargon.


Unless it is extremely obvious, I aid on the side of caution in assuming someone knows my particular knowledge of certain industry jargon. Most of the time, I try to speak in more simple language. So, how can you simplify your jargon within your speech when speaking to non industry experts?


Ginny Redish is quick to remind us that "It's not a matter of dumbing down. It's a matter of meeting people where they are and saving people's time."


Simplifying jargon can begin by speaking in shorter simpler sentences. Eliminate excess within your speech. Try to avoid using "it is" "there is" or "there are," to begin sentences. For example, rather than "It is essentially important to take note that we need to be thoughtful when we are handling sensitive information by sending encrypted messages."


Instead say, "Send sensitive information in encrypted messages."


By eliminating excess and redundancies while adapting a more action focused statement, you are creating a framework that is easier to understand.


Also, clarify abbreviation and acronyms. HR begins using acronyms literally in their name, "HR" and the acronyms only expand from there. I have an FTE that's using PTO and ESL. Is that English to a non-HR person? Sometimes, just saying the acronyms provide more clarity. I have a "full time employee" that using their "paid time off" and "extended sick leave."


You can use comparisons and examples. If you've seen any of my trainings or keynotes, you know that I use this a lot! You can compare a stand up in a development team to a huddle in a sports team. You can explain a cloud storage to an expandable garage holding knowledge. You can explain sourcing recruitment to hunting and application recruitment is more like fishing. All of these provide an image of a more commonly known everyday item or experience that is relatable.


Finally, adjust your pace. Include more pauses for questions, speak more slowly so that you can be intentional to look at your audiences faces to discern understanding.


There are a lot of different ways to communicate jargon, so here's what I want you to do today. Ask the question, will jargon be helpful or hurtful in this audience? If jargon is not helpful, simplify and clarify your statements so that you can increase understanding.


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