Navigating Business Jargon: A Guide to Clear Communication

Dec 30


Marcia Yudkin

Marcia Yudkin

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In the process of evaluating business websites for the Webby Awards, I encountered a recurring issue that hindered comprehension - the excessive use of jargon. This insider language often obscured the actual services offered by the businesses. This issue is not limited to websites but also extends to press releases, reducing their effectiveness.

The Three Types of Jargon

Jargon can be categorized into three types: buzzwords,Navigating Business Jargon: A Guide to Clear Communication Articles acronyms, and technical or specialized terminology.


Buzzwords are trendy phrases often used by individuals who perceive themselves as being at the forefront of their field. An example of a headline riddled with buzzwords could be "GCKL's Enterprise-level Viral Marketing Solutions Offer Leading Value-Add for the P2P Revolution". This headline contains seven buzzwords, which can be off-putting for many, especially journalists. It's advisable to avoid buzzwords as they often lead to confusion rather than clarity.


Acronyms like "CRM", "CSS", "CSP", and "CTR" can be a bit more complex to navigate. They are more likely than buzzwords to be used in internet searches or press release databases. For instance, potential clients or media personnel might search for "CRM for small business" or "CSS tutorials". However, it's important to remember that not everyone may be familiar with these acronyms. Therefore, it's crucial to provide clear explanations for such acronyms, especially in press releases.

Technical or Specialized Terminology

Technical or specialized terms such as "hematoma", "habeas corpus", "chakra", and "candlestick charts" have specific meanings in certain fields. However, individuals outside these fields may not fully understand these terms. Therefore, it's recommended to provide a brief, unobtrusive definition close to their first use in a release.

The Art of Subtle Explanation

When providing explanations for jargon, it's important to do so subtly to avoid offending both insiders and outsiders. For instance, in Eastern medicine, "qi" is a standard term. A subtle definition could be: "Acupuncture restores balance and regulates the flow of qi, the basic life force." The last four words provide a clear explanation without causing confusion or insult.

In conclusion, while jargon can sometimes be necessary, it's crucial to handle it with care to ensure clear and effective communication.