March 26, 2017

Start making sense

Convince reviewers to abandon jargon

Richard Teerlink, chairman of Harley-Davidson, stands in front of a screen showing a bicep emblazoned with his company’s logo.

Start making sense

What’s wrong with this picture? We don’t call them tattoos any more. Now they’re “dermatological graphics.” Image by Stlukesguild1

“We don’t call them tattoos any more,” he told his audience. Instead, he said, they are now “dermatological graphics.”

Of course you don’t, Mr. Teerlink.

Just like we don’t call it a company, talking, hiring consultants or coming up with ideas any more. Now they’re the enterprise, interfacing, utilizing change agents and ideation.

Jargon. Buzzwords. Acronyms. They’re things that make your reader go “huh?” And we need to get them out of our copy.

But you know that.

For many communicators, the biggest obstacle to writing clearly isn’t that they don’t know how to get the gobbledygook out. It’s that their approvers love the gobbledygook.

So here’s a list of reasons to avoid jargon. Use it to convince your most incomprehensible colleagues that jargon not only hinders communication, it also hurts business.

Jargon:

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“Never impose your language on people you wish to reach.”
— Abbie Hoffman, U.S. social and political activist, founder of the Youth International Party, or yippies

Cut Through the Clutter

Make every piece you write easier to read & understand

Is your copy easy to read? According to communication experts, that’s one of the two key questions people ask to determine whether to read a piece — or toss it.

Slice through your message

Slice through your message To reach readers, cut through the jargon, buzzwords and gobbledygook. Image by Deanna Wardin

Fortunately, academics have tested and quantified what makes copy easy to read. Unfortunately, that research virtually never makes it out of the ivory tower and into the hands of writers who could actually apply it.

But you’ll leave Catch Your Readers — a two-day writing Master Class on Nov. 2-3 in Houston — with “the numbers” you need to measurably improve your copy’s readability. Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How long is too long: For your paragraphs? Your sentences? Your words?
  • Three ways to shorten your copy — and which is the most effective way
  • How to avoid causing your reader to skip your paragraphs
  • A tool you can use (you already have it, but you might not know it) to quantifiably improve your copy’s readability
  • A seven-step system for making your copy clearer and more concise

This is your last chance to learn to Catch Your Readers in 2016. Don’t miss out! Register now.

“Ann used the time well to give us a combo of teaching and practice time. I have a massive list of takeaways to bring to my agency that I think would improve many aspects of the way we communicate to our target audiences.”
— Amy Watson, copywriter, Verdin

Polish your skills at our upcoming Master Classes

Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for Online writing workshop in New York on Sept. 28-29
Register for communication measurement workshop in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 12-13
Register for writing workshop in Houston on Nov. 2-3
Register for Creative writing workshop in Los Angeles on Feb. 23-24, 2017
Register for Tight writing workshop in Washington, D.C. on April 6-7, 2017
Register for Not Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop in Chicago on May 18-19, 2017
Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie's online-writing workshop in Portland on July 27-28, 2017
Register for Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie's tight-writing workshop in San Francisco on Aug, 17-18, 2017

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  • Chicago: May 18-19, 2017
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Keep up with my calendar.