When you’re an expert in your industry, it’s easy to fall into the habit of speaking in jargon. That’s all good when you are with your colleagues; you speak the same language. But when you’re talking to someone outside of your industry, you may as well be speaking in tongues.
When you’re trying to engage with prospective clients, it’s essential to break down concepts that are commonplace for you and translate them into something more palatable. This doesn’t mean you’re speaking “down” to your customers. But they need to know what you do — and why you do it better than everyone else — without having to dig through the jargon.
Gain trust and earn respect
Using plain language is an important way to gain the trust and respect of your prospects and clients. Putting your communications into plain language shows that you
- know who you’re talking to. Use targeted information and vocabulary that appeals to your customers. The more familiar you sound, the less work they have to put into deciphering your meaning. They will more easily grasp your concepts.
- are a resource. Help customers use your information to solve their most common problems.
- are more approachable than the competition. Clear, straightforward language gives you a competitive advantage over other businesses who alienate customers by padding their communications.
- can be trusted. Plain language provides a level of transparency that opens the door for customers to connect with your company and increases their confidence in your expertise.
Ask yourself these questions before writing business content to ensure that you are using language your prospects will understand:
- Who is my target audience? How much do they know about the subject, and what do I want them to know?
- Is information presented in a logical order that makes concepts easier to understand?
- Am I using examples or anecdotes to demonstrate points and make ideas understandable?
- Am I writing in second-person (using “you”) so that readers feel I am communicating directly with them?
- Am I using in-text links to provide additional information or providing background resources to help readers further understand?
- Am I keeping sentences and paragraphs short?
Some experts are too close to their subject matter to know whether their writing is clear or clouded with jargon. That’s OK; after all, you are a professional! But it’s often helpful to bring in a communication expert from outside your organization. That person can look at your writing with a fresh perspective and help you communicate accurately and clearly.