Friday, December 07, 2012

Keep it Simple

Do you know what is one of the most annoying things in business today? It is the increasing use of business jargon.

I recently read that over 25% of business executives admitted to using jargon they didn't understand in meetings – why would you do that?

For some people I’m sure it’s a way of setting themselves apart, appearing an expert or looking really clever. However, if your intention is to sell or gain support, setting yourself apart surely puts a barrier between you and those you’re communicating with.

When it comes to selling technological things so many messages dissolve into a sort of linguistic swamp.

Here's a good example from an e-mail someone sent me recently:

At Blah-co we have just developed an email stationery online software package that allows one in house member of staff to deploy all email users with a professionally designed Email stationery template, designed by one of our team of designers to all users and to include their unique contact details, meaning not only will the presentation of their emails improve but equally as important all be consistent throughout your organisation. (whew!)

Well, I think I understand the beginning and the end and recognise many of the words in between but I have no idea what they are saying. And if they’ve paid for my email address, they’ve clearly wasted their time and money.

Would this explain it better:

Because of the way the templates are constructed our solutions avoid all types filtering ensuring your mail always arrives.

Here's another series of examples extracted from mailings sent by another firm.
  • Are you one of those lucky few who have bedded down IT operations?
  • Would you realise a significant increase in business agility, accelerated decision making, employees pursuing a common agenda and a heightened awareness of your strategy?
  • Miss or ignore priority system availability or leadership messages.
  • Adopting a new change driver that communicates change and strategy in a high impact and engaging way.
  • Intranets suffer the limitations of pull technology.
  • A controlled feedback channel enables you to capture a snapshot of employee morale in real time.
What are they actually talking about? If they used plain English, we might know.

So this month's idea comes from Winston Churchill, who said, "Use simple words that everyone knows, and then everyone will understand."

This is important especially if you're selling a financial or technical product or service. In the words of world renowned copywriter and direct marketing expert, Drayton Bird – “Use a bit of jargon to reassure the anoraks, but put the rest in English”.

PS - You might also like to check out Extensor's Buzzword Bingo game.  Ed.

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