Sitting on a concrete bench one warm Georgia afternoon, a colleague and I were engaged in some intense brainstorming. It was week two of a four week corporate sales training class for a well known Fortune 500 company. We had been given the task of crafting our “elevator speech”; a 30 second blurb on our profession.
After much deliberation we came up with our plan. “Brilliant!” we congratulated ourselves, “We nailed it!”
When class re-convened we shot our hands into the air, volunteering to go first. We swaggered to the front of the class; plugged a laptop into the overhead projector, opened Power Point and embarked on a fifteen minute “30 second elevator speech.” We showed flow charts and Gantt charts, line graphs and bar graphs. We basked in our brilliance as words like “robust” and “seamlessly integrated” flowed off our tongues like honey. We awaited the thunderous applause.
“Hmm,” piped up a fellow colleague, “you’ll open your laptop in the elevator?”
“So, you’ll have the projector with you?” questioned another, “Will you project onto the elevator wall or whip out a mini screen?”
Chagrined, we went back to our seats. It was clear we had sounded ridiculous.
The book Why Business People Speak Like Idiots points out that people frequently engage in idiot-speak because they really don’t understand their topic. My colleague and I that afternoon were just two idiots speaking a language we barely understood.
The book’s authors do make one exception, however, and that exception has to do with technical jargon:
Every profession has some sub-set of words that help its guru’s share their genius in a kind of shorthand.
Real jargon – technical language among real experts – isn’t the problem. Gratuitous jargon is.
Last week, the gurus here at Oneupweb released two cleverly crafted glossaries packed with technological jargon that will help all of us “share our genius” with one another.
The “technical language shorthand” contained in these pocket-size yet potent glossaries represents the quickly evolving language of the internet.