Everyone Says Ditch The Jargon Here's Why
Here's a general rule for persuasive writing you may or may not be familiar with - anytime you can create cognitive ease your reader will be more open to your message. You see I've been reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, this time with a copywriter's eye.
SO WHAT IS COGNITIVE EASE?
Cognitive ease happens when your brain decides things are going well. There are no threats in the environment, no special reason to pay extra attention. This is your brain relaxing, putting up its feet and enjoying a nice cup of tea. You're probably in a good mood, like what you see and hear around you and feel like you're in a comfortable/familiar situation. You tend to trust your instincts and feel more creative when you're experiencing cognitive ease.
The flip side, of course, is cognitive strain. This is your brain on alert, telling you there's a problem somewhere so you'd better sit up, put the damn tea down and pay attention. You're more vigilant, suspicious, make fewer errors and invest more time in what you're doing. If you have an important decision to make it's probably better to experience some cognitive strain.
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO SELL YOUR STUFF?
Psychologists have discovered "that a sentence that's printed in a clear font or has been repeated or has been primed will be fluently processed with cognitive ease." Translation...
EVERYONE SAYS IT'S IMPORTANT TO AVOID YOUR INDUSTRY'S JARGON - HERE'S WHY.
When we use words we've seen before it evokes a sense of familiarity in our brains (aka cognitive ease) and we read along quite happily.
If you use words or phrases people are unfamiliar with it's like plastering your page with little red flags. Signs for their brains to slow down and pay attention because something new is happening and we have to figure out what it means and assess the threat level. If you do this too much they'll tire of trying to decipher your message and click over to a site that explains things more clearly.
Psychologists also found that people were rated MORE credible and intelligent when they used simpler language. If that isn't a reason to ditch the jargon I don't know what is.
Sometimes as copywriters putting words together in unexpected ways can be just the effect we want to achieve. After all, we want to avoid sounding boring, trite or clichéd. We want people to pay attention to the message we've crafted at certain specifically planned parts. But never to the point where they feel uncomfortable or cognitively strained.
A Think with Google report found that we don't necessarily want to experience NEW things but familiar things in new ways. Our brains, they love that cognitive ease. So stop worrying about sounding like a professional and start worrying about sounding like a human.
Other helpful findings regarding creating cognitive ease...(a term that's been repeated enough times you're already becoming familiar with it) :)
1. Your message has to be readable. This is a no brainer. Readability comes before design and any good designer knows this. I love a good display font as much as the next girl but it's got to be legible. And when there's lots of text black on white is still the easiest to read.
2. When you want someone to pay attention to certain words or phrases deliberately using a different font or colour (sparingly) can help make their brains pause for a second.
3. Make 'em smile! People who were smiling were more likely to experience cognitive ease. Frowning was associated with cognitive strain. So don't be afraid to inject a little humor and let your personality shine through your website. We don't all have to be stand up comedians cracking jokes left, right and centre. But if you can make 'em smile they'll be more open to your message :)
Above all, see this as the freedom to say what you've always been itching to say. To finally speak to your clients and customers like the flawed fellow human that you are. And to stop making everything so serious, even if you're absolutely serious about the results you can deliver.
If you liked what you read please take a second to share it with others. :)