Jargon in business writing- Run that up the flag pole and see who salutes?

Well, writing clearly to be understood is a noble aim and also common sense. Sadly, common sense isn’t always common practice. Alan Siegal (see above) has dedicated himself to reducing jargon in government, legal documents, and even for the IRS.

Here’s a quote from Alan:

“There is no way that we should allow government to communicate the way they communicate. There is no way we should do business with companies that have agreements with stealth provisions and that are unintelligible. So, how are we going to change the world? Make clarity, transparency and simplicity a national priority.”

I agree with the above and will take it a step further. We write because we want to communicate a desired message to a specific audience. Whether it’s writing an email to a colleague or selling to a client, the goal should be “to inform” and not “to impress” and that’s good business.

Here’s a tip. Avoid the overuse of jargon in your business writing. Here are some examples: globalize, incentivize, leverage, paradigm shift, proactive, integration, robust, synergy, etc… Let me be clear, is there anything wrong with any of these words? Absolutely not. But I do think that they can be a default rather then a choice. Before you use them, ask yourself a question: Am I being as clear as I can be and do I really need to use them to reach my reader? Am I writing to be clear or to impress?

So if your child asks you to sing “Row, Row, Row the Boat”, don’t respond with:

Propel, Propel, Propel your craft 
Placidly down the liquid solution, 
Ecstatically, Ecstatically, Ecstatically, Ecstatically, 
existence is but an illusion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *