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What is the Value Add of Using Business Jargon?

“Let’s ideate on this a bit.”

“I need some top-, middle- and bottom-funnel ideas.”

“I want to take these actionable items and discuss offline.”

The business and marketing world is full of terms like this, but does this business jargon help or hurt business practices?

A lot of the time, it can affect pitches to investors and make them less likely to invest resources into an organization.

“If a person can’t explain something to me so I understand it as an investor, how in the world can a consumer or a business buyer understand it?” said Deb Gabor, founder of Investorpitches.com in an interview with Entrepreneur magazine.

Many business schools are trying to get students to stop using jargon, as employers complain about graduates entering the field who can’t effectively communicate. A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicated that two-thirds of recent graduates thought they could write and speak efficiently, but only 25% of employers agreed.

In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Dan Pallotta, president of Advertising for Humanity, says using jargon has become a habit in the workplace as people try to assimilate.

“I think at a deeper level, people feel like they have to talk that way,” Pallotta said. “I think people have a punishing voice in their heads that tells them they’re dumb, and so we try to mimic the things we hear other people say because we think they’re smarter than us.”

Indeed, using jargon can make people think they’re fitting in at the workplace, and while that might help them inside the company, it tends to hurt them outside the business. Clients and others outside of that sphere won’t understand what they’re hearing or reading.

“I think going back to our parents and the way they spoke is a good way to break out of this habit,” Pallotta said. “I do think that this new economy presents language challenges for us. But that doesn’t mean that we need to be unconscious about that fact and be lazy in our communication.”

So, next time you plan to meet with clients or investors, it might be a good strategy to eliminate those buzzwords from your repertoire.

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