When Jargons and Abbreviations are Your Best Friends!

Jargons and abbreviations pretend to be your best friends, elevating your self-esteem and morale to a grin. That was probably your side of the story. On the other side, people are still smiling because they don’t want to look like fools by exposing their inability to understand what you just said. It is a lot more common than you think. The bottom-line is that you did not get the message across.

Of course, your perception about jargons and abbreviations is positive because you saved your time and effort. However, let’s look at them objectively.

Merriam-Webster defines jargons as “technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group”, but it is quick to add that jargons are “obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words”. In short, both the Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries term jargons as archaic and unintelligible.

The same goes for abbreviations where you shorten a group of words with their initials in capitals.

Here’s how you can sound like an industry guy, yet remain understandable:

Definitely know your audience: Whether you are speaking at an event or writing a paper, knowing your target audience will help you in customising your write-up. However, it is always good that you maintain a balance so that whatever you speak or write gets the message across.

Be aware of the context: More than your audience, it is you who should understand the context of your speech or write-up. It will help you in simplifying your jargon or acronym and avoid it from looking out of place. In turn, your target audience knows precisely what you mean.

Always expand, at least the first instance: Extending the concept of context, the best thing you could do is introducing your jargon or abbreviation at the very first instance.

For example: Net asset value (NAV), real estate investment trust (REIT), non-disclosure agreement (NDA)

For the software industry, it is best to include a glossary at the end of your document.

Avoid repetition: Repeating a jargon in your text or speech greatly reduces the impact of your message. Once or twice is the maximum.

Know your jargons and abbreviations: It is not uncommon for people to write and talk about an industry, and at the same time being unaware what the common jargons and abbreviations actually mean. It is just like talking about the equity market and carrying the understanding of CAGR as compound average growth rate instead of compound annual growth rate.

A simple language is always the best way to get your message across; however, whenever your best friends accompany you, make sure you introduce them!