Speaking In Code

We all speak “in code” in our professional worlds. Try sparking a conversation with these, “Our CTO and I discussed the TQM reports from our ASP’s…” (Corporate acronyms might make a fun party game.) Or “We want complete transparency with all our stakeholders in benchmarking our capacity building in our CSR program.” The most erudite of folks won’t know what you’re talking about, of course, unless they use the same terms.

We use jargon, techno speak, acronyms and inside language for brevity and perhaps to make ourselves sound smarter?  The other day I listened to a Philanthropy Today discussion led by Tony Proscio, author, consultant, and jargon busting expert, formerly with the Miami Herald.  I’d like to share some of his insights on how to limit the use of jargon in our speaking and writing.

First, speak to your audience!  If your audience uses certain terms such as “correlation coefficient,” use them but explain what you mean.  Also, remember you may have more than one audience.

Second, don’t always use language that people expect.  Proscio says, ““…nail the idea to the wall — make it definite, clear, and vivid …simply finding a synonym is often not the answer.  Find the IDEA first, and then write about that idea.”  So what are you really talking about when you use the word “capacity,” – more exhibition space, more employees, better training?

Third, Proscio offers three questions to ask a smart honest outsider or I would say, ask also yourself.

(1)  Are there words or phrases that some of your audience may not understand?
(2)  Are there expressions that seem tired, worn-out, or dense?
(3)  Are there words or phrases that become repetitive or dull from overuse?

Ok, I’m off to one of my HCP’s to discuss the health outcomes of recommended modalities, ah, I mean, I’m off to my doctor for an exam!

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Nord Strategy Group is a team of strategic communicators and market activators. We help you chart your strategy and metrics, create your messages, and execute your communications and marketing. Our experienced creative, marketing, and production professionals help you take full advantage of opportunities in your marketplace. We work with companies from the Russell 1000 to start-ups across industries as well as major NGO’s and burgeoning causes.