As Clear as Mud in a Beer Bottle

We’ve all heard of the Hippocratic Oath, the one that doctors use as their guiding principles.

Well, I reckon loads of medical and other professionals swear a different, secret oath when they start out. I call it the ‘Jargon people to death’ oath. I’m sure you know it. It goes something like this:

The oath

I (insert name here) do solemnly swear that, when dealing with clients / patients / constituents / colleagues (delete where appropriate), I shall always use ten words at a minimum when three would do, so that said clients / patients / constituents / colleagues (delete where appropriate) completely understand the fine details of my proposed plans / treatment / policy / system / strategy / other (please specify).

Further, I will use unintelligible legalese at every opportunity, taking phrases out of contracts I’ve signed in the past with no understanding of their meaning or nuance because this is what others before me have done when I was their client / patient / constituent / colleague (delete where appropriate) and it didn’t do me any harm. In fact, it reassured me that minds greater than my own had created a fool-proof protection of my rights.

Finally, I will also jargon to death said clients / patients / constituents / colleagues (delete where appropriate) by using specific scientific or industry-related words, preferably of three syllables or more, to make my proposed plans / treatment / policy / system / strategy / other (please specify) as precise as possible, thus ensuring that I cannot be misunderstood / sued / misquoted / other (please specify). Any confusion, frustration, annoyance and general bewilderment that may result will be dealt with by further documentation, and as a last resort by a fifteen-minute meeting / consultation / other (please specify) using said industry-specific terminology very loudly and repeatedly. At no point will I offer lay-person’s terms to explain complex aspects of my specialty.

Celebrate Plain English Day

The reason for my little post on this is that Plain English Day is October 13. And I can’t think of a better date to renounce your ‘Jargon people to death’ oath. Work with me through the next few Tips & Tricks, and I’ll take you to a place where your writing is clear and precise, includes sufficient detail but doesn’t jargon your readers to death. I promise.

The first step is to be very sparing with jargon. My post ‘Jargon is your friend…but only Sometimes‘ will show you how to do this.

Ready to discuss how I can help you and your people communicate more effectively with your clients and customers?

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