Did you ever experience TFW you’re just trying to get your IT department to approve a EUD because of a new BYOD policy? SMH, right?
If you didn’t understand that sentence, that’s a perfect example of what your audience might be seeing when you use too much jargon in your content. Jargon – otherwise known as special terms or acronyms that only people “in the know” understand – can be a great thing to use for communication, but there’s always a time and place for them.
So how exactly can using jargon hurt your content? Simply put, it widens the distance between you and your audience, which drastically affects your reach. People are more likely to engage with something that they understand, and using too much jargon effectively locks them out of a conversation they can be having with you.
Too much jargon doesn’t just make your content harder to understand – it can give the impression that you just don’t care about your audience. This doesn’t just hurt your chances of getting new customers, but it also drives away existing ones.
Here are three of the top reasons why using jargon can take away value from any content you publish:
Jargon assumes that whoever is reading it will already have context. That’s not always a guarantee, especially if your content is meant to generate leads instead of nurturing them. When your jargon-filled content meets an audience lacking context, it may cause them to avoid engaging with you – simply because they don’t understand what you’re talking about.
Not all of your content will be personalized to an audience. Sometimes you’ll write something like a social media post or an evergreen article that’s more targeted at awareness, and that’s when you need to cut down on the jargon. Since you’ll be having different audiences read it, overuse of jargon can confuse people from different industries. Acronyms in particular are the most frequent offenders in this case.
The fast pace of innovation and data today means that concepts or things that we’ve assigned jargon to may no longer be relevant in the future. For example, very few people these days know what DVD means since most of our data is now cloud-based. Using outdated jargon can lessen confidence in your content, as most people are looking for the latest information with what they read online.
Cutting down on jargon should be done carefully. Spelling it out every time may make your audience feel patronized; not using it all can mess with the flow of your writing. The key here is not to stop using jargon entirely (there are times where it’s necessary) but to use the right amount of jargon that can still help your content.
The first thing you need to do is to keep your words simple. It can be too easy to get carried away with explaining things in an overly technical manner. But if you’re trying to get your point across in the least complicated way possible, talk about things, not concepts.
A huge block of text is going to be intimidating to read, especially if it’s peppered with jargon. To break up your content and avoid using too much jargon in your writing, use a lot of whitespaces to space your ideas apart. Keeping sections blank can help the eye move easier through your content.
One reason why jargon can sometimes flood your writing is that it’s used as a reference to other parts of your content. While this is great for references, it can sometimes grow into tangents that can interrupt the flow of your narrative. A good way to avoid this is to keep all relevant points in a single section, so you don’t need to keep referring back to it so much.
Jargon is meant to convey ideas – but in some cases, it can sometimes replace those ideas entirely. One method of avoiding jargon is to simply define what you’re talking about in your content. Sometimes, a clear explanation can pay off for an audience instead of confusing them with jargon, especially if they don’t have context.
By far the best way to avoid placing too much jargon is to create an outline of your content before writing it. While this doesn’t completely eliminate the use of jargon, an outline can give you a good idea of the best places to put jargon effectively. It’s something you can consult when you write your content and can be a great way to make sure you don’t get carried away when writing.
However, jargon isn’t completely bad – you just need the right time to use it. Properly used, jargon can help make your writing more authoritative, read smoothly, and deliver crucial info at a glance.
Jargon can be useful in many ways – but it’s important to know the correct context to use them for the best effect. Not only does this improve your writing and content overall, but it also helps your audience go through your content without having to work too hard to decipher the value that’s inside it. In most cases, simply writing for your audience can be more than enough to make sure that they understand what you’re trying to say.