We all use jargon and shorthand every day in conversations with friends and co-workers. It’s a kind of code that helps us get from A to B quicker. It’s useful and saves time.
I am writing this article from Washington and last week I heard staffers on Capitol Hill talk about going on a CODEL. I found out this is a Congressional Delegation and for Capitol Hill staffers to use this shorthand makes sense.
For me, it was a foreign language. But a special language only works when everyone understands it and you often will be speaking to people who don’t. So you need to be aware of the huge risks in using jargon in pitches, speeches and presentations.
Jargon makes you forgettable
If you use cliches that have lost all life and meaning, you will lose the attention and interest of your audience. This isn't the first time your audience has heard these words so why should they pay attention.
Jargon can make you sound pompous and self-important
If you only talk in fluent “cutting-edge” jargon, you don't sound like a human. Or you may just sound like a kid playing with “grown up” words.
Jargon dilutes or wipes out your message
Meaningless buzzwords will not help explain your message - they will do the complete opposite. Jargon and corporate speak will weaken your message and take out the colour. Or they embarrass your audience because they have to make a choice between not understanding you or having to ask what you mean.
Jargon ignores who you are
Of course, you need to sell your ideas or products but you also need to sell yourself and your organisation. Successful people don’t use jargon to explain who they are and neither should you.
Using jargon makes you look lazy
If it is worth turning up to the pitch, speech or presentation - why don't you invest the time in the content of your message? Respect your audience and yourself. Use fresh vocabulary that actually means something to the audience and that works for you and your message.