Jargon, or specific terminology, can be unique to a group. Within most groups, jargon can be an important shorthand that includes well known and understood terms, as well as acronyms for frequently used phrases or titles. When communicating outside of an established group, it is wise to be able to replace jargon with other terms. Sometimes we have found it helpful to use what we fondly call “Double Speak:” adding a second term to the phrase that provides further clarification. Double Speak needs to be done simply, without drawing attention to itself. It is an easy way to respect and educate your audience. For example, in the theatre world one could say, “we will work on blocking, where you move on stage, for the next hour.” This is less alienating than “we will work on blocking for the next hour — for those of you who don’t know, that means where you move on stage.”
When referencing a famous person, Double Speak allows one to use the name without over explaining or making members of the audience feel excluded, uninformed — or dare we say, stupid. For example, “next week Sonia Sotomayer, the Supreme Court justice, is coming to speak.” This approach is different from leaving out the double speak entirely, which relies solely on the name recognition for your audience. A listener can feel as if they should know who you are speaking about and not ask for clarification or an explanation. That is a lose-lose. They lose your flow of information when they are not informed of a name or term that might be helpful. A speaker can easily turn this into a win-win with a simple Double Speak term clarification. If you find yourself thinking, “they should know this term or person,” then reconsider and simply provide the Double Speak. This way you will keep your audience connected to you and your content.