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Gibberish

September 21, 2014

word magnets

Photo: Jason Tester (CC)

Cutting-edge communication involves a lot of gibberish. Terms I may know that you may not know. Terms I may not know but use anyway.

Terms used by the media. Terms used by competitors. Terms thrown about with little understanding and exaggerated importance.

It’s my responsibility to use easy-to-understand language and to explain terminology when asked. I should make ideas and processes as clear and digestible as possible.

I remember the first time I heard the phrase “inside baseball” in a newsroom and had no idea what it meant. I asked, because I’d rather be temporarily seen as ignorant than permanently actually ignorant.

(Wikipedia: “Inside baseball refers to a detail-oriented approach to the minutiae of a subject, which in turn requires such a specific knowledge about what is being discussed that the nuances are not understood or appreciated by outsiders.”)

(And yes, at the time I asked, Googling wasn’t a thing.)

I do public speaking regularly, and I encourage audiences to ask questions whenever I present a concept that is unfamiliar or poorly defined. People won’t always raise their hands, and I don’t blame them. I anticipate as best as I can.

Any expert in any industry knows their jargon, but their audience may or may not. SEO, retweet, trackback, moderation, affiliate marketing, curation, targeting, plugin — all terms I use and all terms I may need to explain when used.

The challenge for any client is making informed decisions. They are no more able to pick the right marketer than I am at picking the best mechanic. I can take my car to different shops, receive different estimates and review different testimonials. In the end, I’m taking a leap of faith in who will actually repair my vehicle properly and cheaply.

This blog is a way I can overcome the problem of gibberish. Answering questions from any channel (email, comments, social media, phone, raised hand) is another way.

We can all improve in our communication, and minimizing gibberish is an important step.

• • •

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