Recently, I wrote a blog and mentioned neurobiologist Stephen Porges’ work. In the original draft of the blog I included a transcribed quote from a Porges talk. The quote had words including “strirated” and “myelinated”. I felt pretty good that I had tracked down the talk and taken the time to transcribe the complete quote. I gave it to a colleague for proofing and to get her feedback. Her comments included “Why are you including this Porges quote? Most people don’t know what striated and myelinated mean. Including this quote is more confusing than helpful and makes the blog less accessible to the reader.”

If I were talking with or writing for neurobiologists or just plain biologists and used these words, they may be impressed I know what they mean, but most others would just go “Huh?” The point is we need to be careful about the technical terms or buzz words we use when presenting. For us, in our everyday work we get comfortable with the language and acronyms of our area of expertise and we forget that others may not know what we are talking about.

Often those who don’t know are unwilling to interrupt to ask for further explanation for fear of sounding stupid or seeming uninformed.

A goal of your sales interaction should be to reach everyone. A way to do that should include avoiding using technical jargon without checking for understanding or explaining its meaning. If there are people in the room who are in the know, you can acknowledge their expertise by saying something like “Jackie and Peter, given your roles you know what I mean when I say _____. For the benefit of those who may not know, let me explain what I mean when I say____.”

And actually, no, I don’t casually embed striated and myelinated in my typical day-to-day conversations.  For your information “striated,” means striped or streaked, and “myelinated” refers to the sheath of a nerve.  Why would you know?