Josey Rose Duncan

The Write Site

How I leveraged my dislike of jargon into this game-changing public service announcement

Jargon PSA

I work with words a lot for my job and after reading for what felt like the bazillionth time that someone leveraged game-changing ideation into actionable best-in-class curation to incentivize stakeholders, I started to wonder what I was doing with my life.

What would nine-year-old Josey think of me now? She was going to change the world through investigative journalism. And what happened to that novel I’d have published by 30? The years, they pass so quickly…

Sorry—what were we talking about again? Oh right, jargon. It’s the worst.

Jargon doesn’t actually make us sound smart; it’s an imprecise way to communicate, and it baffles and bores our coworkers. I know many of us in the corporate world feel this way; I frequently read diatribes against the use of jargon and lists of particular words to avoid.

I decided to create a video to illustrate how jargon is the wrong choice—the easy way out.

So I went to YouTube and watched a bunch of antidrug public service announcements (and a smattering of ’80s-era after-school specials). Growing up in the U.S. as part of the D.A.R.E. generation, antidrug PSAs warned us during commercial breaks that the world was rife with shady characters ready to foist on us everything unsavory from joint hits to ’roids and bags of crystal meth. The PSAs of my youth were dramatic, often corny, and usually ended with a foreboding slogan.

“Jargon: Don’t take the easy way out” is a public service announcement that equates jargon with illegal drugs.

After writing the script and drawing a hideous stick-figure storyboard, I remembered that I don’t know how to draw, so I coerced some talented colleagues into making the animation. (Let’s pretend this is Facebook so I can tag the brilliant Britt Anderson and Dan Windsor. You guys are the best.) More coercing followed, this time of colleagues to be voice actors. You know when someone’s so good at playing a creepy part that you start to wonder whether they’re a legit total creep in real life? Yeah.

Will “Jargon: Don’t take the easy way out” eradicate jargon from corporate culture forever? I don’t think my expectations are at all unreasonably high when I say: Definitely.

See the video