Like most fields, the promotional products industry has its fair share of insider terms and acronyms. This nomenclature makes sense to industry professionals, but often just ends up complicating conversations and confusing prospective buyers.

Why do people use industry jargon? Some throw around certain terms to sound smart. Others may simply forget that their audience doesn’t know specialized phrases or acronyms. Either way, it’s best to avoid industry jargon. John Millen, a communication strategist, says this is because when you want to communicate with others, you need to speak their language — not yours.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Millen’s five tips for limiting your jargon usage.

  1. Learn to become self-aware. The first step in cutting back on your jargon is to recognize when you use it — and just how often you incorporate insider language and phrases. Millen says the problem with jargon is that we get so accustomed to talking in shorthand in our company and industry that we don’t even know we’re doing it.

  2. Define common acronyms. You’re reading PCT, which is a PPAI publication. You know what these acronyms stand for, but industry outsiders may not. Try to define your working terms if you’re working with someone unfamiliar with the industry. You never know what level of knowledge people have, Millen says, so set a foundation of understanding with your terms.

  3. KISS. In other words, keep it simple. Millen points out that most major publications are written at a fifth-grade level to make it easier for everyone to understand. There’s no reason to overcomplicate your emails or discussions with industry-speak.

  4. Check body language. When you’re talking with a prospective buyer, pay attention to their body language. Are they checking their phone? Gazing at something behind you? When you use too much jargon, they may begin to feel distant from you. And these prospects won’t ask you to explain your jargon because they think they should already know what it means, Millen says.
  5. Ask and listen. Millen says it’s critical to ask often if people understand what a saying or concept means. When you ask, you open the door for real connection. Making a connection is what it’s all about, he adds. Prospects must understand what you’re talking about if you want to keep moving the conversation forward.

When you’re communicating with clients or potential buyers, it’s always important to make your message clear and understandable. If your conversations or emails are littered with jargon, you’re only mucking up your message. Follow the guidance above to clean up your verbiage and cut out the unnecessary jargon.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: John Millen is a communication strategist who has helped more than 7,000 leaders, from CEOs to frontline leaders, improve their communication skills.