Professional jargon on your practice website?
It might impress your colleagues.
It might even earn you retroactive brownie points with an old professor or two.
But, how's it landing with your clients?
Dust off those notebooks, friend, because we're talking about professional jargon!
Okay, story time:
I'll never forget the first time I used professional jargon in an intake session with a therapy client.
It doesn't matter what the term was.
The client's reaction said it all.
The word came out before I realized it.
There was the blank stare, a beat of silence, and then the subtle (yet unmistakable) squint of confusion.
(Ugh, so cringy! Don't be like me.)
Look, we've got no shortage of professional terminology in the health and wellness fields and, used the right way, I do believe they can be of value to our clients and patients.
For instance, to help a parent understand their child's unique brand of anxiety, it could be useful to equip them with some key vocabulary.
But, by jargon, I mean the terms that are really only useful in conversations between professional colleagues.
To the vast majority of the folks landing on our websites, these terms are worse than meaningless: They're a waste of time.
If our goal is clear, authentic communication (and I believe it should be!), then it's vital that we adopt the practice of using our audience's words whenever possible.
So, how do we do this?
Well, the good news is you're already doing it!
You're listening to your clients and patients all the time, in your conversations with them.
As you're going about your regular business, here are 3 things I want you to keep in mind:
1) Pay attention to the words your people use to describe their problems
For example, if you support cardiac health and your patients tend to say "the flicker in my chest", then that's how you'd refer to that symptom in your website words.
That would be a much better choice than elevated heart rate or tachycardia.
2) Take note of the words they use to describe themselves + their people
For instance, there's nothing wrong with saying on your website that you "help busy dads manage stress so that they can enjoy more active lives with their kiddos" if that's how they refer to themselves.
(And a bonus tip: If you happen to work with kids or adolescents, they are exceptionally clear and authentic communicators! They'll offer up the exact terminology you should be using, trust me.)
3) Pay close attention to the words your clients and patients are using to describe their experience working with you
What did it feel like to work with you, week after week, day after day?
This is one place where we are especially vulnerable to jargon: In talking about the interventions we use and the models that guide our work.
This is terrifically meaningful to us, behind the scenes, but it's not communicating anything of substance to our people. So, it's especially important that we pull in those pieces of copy to use on our website.
And beyond our work with our current clients and patients, this is what's going to draw in new dream clients and patients!
They're going to see themselves in the words that describe the experiences of working with you, which is truly magical.
So, how do you tell just how jargon-y your website words are?
Well, you could:
- Share your website copy with a friend or family member who's outside of your field to see what they think
- Share it with past or current clients or patients to see how it lands with them
- Create a poll or a survey for your intended audience and see which words are registering with them and which ones give you that crickets-and-tumbleweed reaction
- Turn to tech! I recently found a free tool online called the De-Jargonizer. It lets you upload a document or manually drop in some copy and it'll actually rate it in terms of how jargon-y it is. Cool, huh? (And judging by the response to this Reel I shared about it, I'd say there's a real need out there!)
And remember, friend:
There is no shame in any of this! Using jargon on our websites or in person is just a natural byproduct of a lot of our professional training as health and wellness professionals.
So, there's a fair amount of practice involved in unlearning some of the habits that we picked up along the way.
And practicing good communication with our people is what this platform is all about!
Thanks so much for being here! Jargon or not, you're doing great. So, keep going and I'll see you right back here for more communication tips to help you preach what you practice!
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