Based on how they write, many businessfolk seem to believe that they sound smarter when they cram as much technical jargon as possible into their writing. This is especially in sales and marketing.

The effect is always the opposite. Technical jargon marks a writer as foolish and insecure, so concerned with sounding smart that they're willing to bury their message in excess verbiage.

Readers (especially customers) are far more likely to think you're smart when you use common words to boil down a message to its gist. For example, here's a real-life slice of business writing followed by a jargon-less rewrite.

The Original Passage

The most competitive companies in every industry will emphatically commit to implementing a data strategy. Any company that thinks they can't be better with data is completely missing the point of what's possible.

Insights and analytics can ultimately drive more value for your customers and help you grow your business. When captured, analyzed and applied in meaningful ways, data can augment practically any area of a business. It offers intelligence on everything from customer purchasing habits to new industry trends.

And as the Internet of Things and other smart technologies continue to gain a foothold on daily life, our collective digital footprint is only going to grow larger. Figuring out how to make sense of this vast and continuously growing store of information is a challenge for any business--especially mid-sized firms that often lack the budget, technology, expertise and staffing to launch big data initiatives.

Surveys of midmarket organizations consistently reveal that the costs associated with big data projects, namely updating IT infrastructure and outsourcing analytics, remain a top barrier to adoption. Organizations that have already embraced IT transformation will have an edge over their competitors when bringing analytics into their business models.


I'm certain that almost anybody who's reading this column can figure out what the writing is trying to communicate. Doing so, however, takes mental effort because the writing is so awkward and convoluted.

What's more, readers who aren't familiar with tech lingo are likely to find the entire passage impenetrable. Same thing with people from other cultures, many of whom will find the use of "foothold" and "footprint" in the same sentence to be a head-scratcher.

The overuse of jargon makes it seem as if the writer were trying to make the message more impressive. It has the reverse effect, making me wonder why such simple concepts need to be tricked out in fancy verbiage.

With that in mind, let's look at that same passage rewritten using common words.

The Rewritten Passage

Better information and better ways to understand that information can help you make better decisions. 

If you can find out how and why your customers buy today, you'll know what and how they'll want to buy tomorrow.

Because almost everything will be connected to the Web, you'll soon be able to find out a lot more about your customers.

Getting to that extra information and having a way to analyze it is worth the expense of investing in new computers and expertise.

Note that the rewritten passage isn't dumbed down. Instead, it communicates the message's gist without extra verbiage. As such, it's more likely to be understood and thus more likely to convince the reader to continue reading or maybe even buying something.

Published on: Sep 5, 2018
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