If you’re working in the tech field, it’s easy to get lost down a jargon rabbit hole. Most of the time, you might not even realise you’re communicating in jargon speak, particularly if you’re working with clients and colleagues who use the same words as you do, day in and day out. Those acronyms, buzzwords and analogies can quickly end up working their way into your everyday vocabulary, making it a hard habit to escape.
But the reality is, even if you’ve pioneered the most technologically advanced product in the world, you need to be able to describe it in a way that makes sense to your target customer. Unfortunately, fancy technical lingo such as ‘Internet of Things’ is meaningless to those people who know zero about it.
Let’s face it, if your end-user can’t make sense of what your product does and how it works, why on earth would they buy it? Even worse, you could lose them to a competitor who has pitched the same type of product but in a more clear-cut way.
So, what can you do to stop yourself from using technical jargon and get your messages heard loud and clear?
Nail down your core messages
In some industries, you may be limited by compliance, or may need to use industry-specific expressions to some degree, especially if you’re working within the B2B sector. But this rule needn’t apply to your core messages.
When you’re describing who you are and what you do, there’s simply no reason why you should be using complex terms. Instead, boil down your words to the bare essentials. Imagine yourself chatting to a friend at a pub and telling them what your company does, then write down how you’d describe it to them in a few short sentences.
Look for easier alternatives when you have no choice but to use complex terminology
For those times when you can’t avoid using industry-specific or legal terminology, try and opt for phrases that are the most widely understood by your audience. For example, if you work in the finance industry, you could consider switching out the word ‘capital’ for ‘financial assets’, as this phrase is more likely to be understood.
Acronyms can be unavoidable in some instances. When it comes to using one, always write the full meaning the first time you mention it, coupled with the acronym in brackets. You can then use the acronym liberally throughout the rest of the text with the confidence that your audience understands what it means.
Know your audience
You should explain your products and services in your customers’ language, not yours. It’s no easy feat, of course, when you know your products like the back of your hand. But take a moment to try to detach yourself from all of the knowledge you hold and put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. It could make all the difference when a customer is deciding to purchase your product over someone else’s.
It’s always worth going the extra mile to understand what chimes with your target audience too. Find out everything you can with regard to their challenges and aspirations, as well as their likes and dislikes. You could even research forums, or news publications, that they engage with to uncover how they speak. Knowing what makes them tick, and the language they use, will help you adapt your tone successfully.
Tell a story
Storytelling is at the heart of good communications and is what prompts customers to engage and take action. When we overuse jargon, we stop ourselves from being able to tell a story in a compelling way, as the complex terminology clouds all the good stuff. Jargon essentially makes it hard for your audience to grasp the essence of what you’re trying to say.
If you want to hold your customer’s attention, stick to plain English and use layman’s terms where possible. Tell your story with lucidity and use real-life anecdotes and examples to bring your ideas to life in a context that is widely understood. The most powerful messages are authentic, honest and strike a chord with the customer. The more you can help your audience paint a vivid picture of how your brand can positively impact them, the better your communications will be.
Create clarity instead of fluff
It can be easy to be put off using alternative language to what you’re used to, in fear of it dumbing down the point you’re trying to make or, coming across as ‘flowery marketing speak’. But putting a stop to tech jargon is not about dazzling your customers with buzzwords or writing in a patronising tone. It’s about creating clarity so that your customers are crystal clear on what you stand for.
Even when you’re in the same industry as someone else, different companies can use the same terms to mean very different things. That’s why it’s always best to write in plain English. Otherwise, if you get your messages muddled up, you could land yourself in hot water with clients.
Test your messaging
If you’re unsure on whether to stop writing in technical jargon, you could carry out a/b testing to help justify your decision. Create one landing page that’s written in tech jargon, then create another one that uses simplified copy. Test them both to see which one delivers the best results. We can probably predict the outcome for you, but we’ll let you be the judge of that!
It can be hard to rip the plaster off and step away from the technical language you’ve become so accustomed to. Especially if the vocabulary is so prevalent within your industry. But now’s the time to challenge the norms and get ahead of the competition. Doing so could make a big difference to your bottom line.
For more communications advice take a look at our article ‘how to get your story heard.’