Redefine the way you define terms

5 ways to rethink definitions

When I was customizing an in-house writing workshop for a utility company, I wanted to see whether there was a better way to define kilowatt hour, or kWh, for consumers.

Rethink definitions: define unfamiliar terms

Go beyond Definition 101 There’s nothing magic about unfamiliar term, familiar term. In fact, that approach may be getting between you and your audience members. Image by Josh Felise

I knew that a kWh was the work performed by one kilowatt of electric power in one hour and that it was the basic measure of electric energy use.

So I Googled “define: kWh.”

That’s the first way to redefine the way you define terms: Google clearer definitions.

5 ways to rethink definitions >>>

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“If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well.”
— Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics

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Get the gobbledygook, jargon & gibberish out

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

Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie's clear-writing workshop on April 17-18 in New York

Indeed, jargon irritates your reader, makes your message less understandable, reduces your social media reach and influence, cuts your chances of media coverage, makes your website harder to find and demonstrates your lack of knowledge about the topic. It may even suggest that your company is in trouble.

Translate the language of your organization into the language of your readers.

At Cut Through the Clutter — our two-day hands-on clear-writing master class on April 17-18 in New York — you’ll learn how to:

  • Determine when to use jargon to streamline communication — and when to avoid it at all costs.
  • Run a simple test to decide which terms to use with industry insiders.
  • Turn Google into the best thesaurus ever.
  • Define terms the reader-friendly way (Hint: It’s not the way we learned to do it in Journalism 101.)
  • Steal techniques from Warren Buffett to make complex technical information easier to understand — and more fun to read.

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