Banish the jargon, says Australian PM

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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reportedly asked the country’s top scientist to change the language used to set out the nation’s research priorities – because it involves too much jargon.

The Australian newspaper reported that the scientist in question, Professor Ian Chubb, was happy to make the changes. “The PM has said to me that he would like them in plain English and I don’t think that is unreasonable,” Chubb was quoted as saying.

While not every clampdown on jargon makes the headlines, the PM's request does highlight the growing demand for simpler language in the workplace.

Around the world, organisations are taking steps to avoid jargon so that they can communicate more effectively with their different audiences.

And there are some good reasons for doing so. As the number of messages we receive each day continues to increase, people have less patience for the ones that they can’t easily understand.

At the same time, business communication is becoming less formal, thanks to the rise of social media and the more human, personal approach that customers now demand.

So, what can you do to avoid confusing your customers?

  1. Avoid using jargon. Many of us work in industries where jargon and acronyms are part of our everyday vocabulary. But as soon as you move beyond your organisation, that jargon will only confuse people. Think carefully about any terms that your audience members are unlikely to understand and find a way to say them in plain English.
  2. Write like you speak. If you struggle to adopt the right tone in your writing, think about how you’d say the same thing if you were speaking to people face-to-face. Not only can this help you to use more natural language, but you’ll also realise how out of place jargon terms sound.
  3. Get help from a colleague. Many documents are drafted by a team that works closely together, so it can be easy for jargon to creep in. Avoid this by asking a colleague from another team to review your draft and highlight any areas they can't understand. If you don’t have a big team, you can always consider using an outside editing service like ours.

As a growing number of businesses take steps to banish jargon and make their communications simpler, it will become more important for other companies to do the same. And, the more you can do to make your business communications clear, the less likely you are to be asked to rewrite your work by your boss. Or, in some cases, the prime minister…

Has your business taken any steps to avoid jargon? Have you seen any good examples of clear and simple business communication? Let us know in the comments below.

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