Have you ever sat through a jargon-filled presentation where—even though the presenter sounded super smart—you had no idea what she really said?

Most highly specialized fields like those in science and engineering have a distinct lexicon that’s used every day—one that’s familiar to experts, but foreign to anyone not in that field.

Innovation is happening very quickly, and each new field generates a plethora of new terms weekly. If you’re an expert, you can’t assume that people have kept up with your field.

Using highly specialized jargon when you’re addressing non-specialists can hamper your efforts and reduce the amount of help you receive from them—solely because they don’t understand what you’re saying. You need to modify your language so it resonates with the potential collaborators and funders of your idea.

a grand idea for an ivory tower

Before specialists acquired their new-fangled vocabulary, they used the common language of the masses. But as they studied their narrow fields, specialized terms and jargon snuck in. It’s like the folks who built the Tower of Babel. Originally, they all spoke a unified language. But due to their pride, their language was confused and they were scattered throughout the earth.

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