The insidiousness of jargon

"We have our ducks in a row. Now we need to keep moving on a go-forward basis."

I actually heard this said in a meeting early in my career. I wrote it down.

I remember thinking, "That is fantastic. So many words. So little said."

I've thought about this from time to time through the years. First, because it makes me laugh. And second, because it is a vivid reminder of the danger of jargon.

The insidiousness of jargon is that it makes you believe you are actually saying something. The example I gave is pretty over-the-top. The more dangerous examples are subtler. They involve a sprinkling of industry terms. Or falling back on the dreaded acronym.

What it all has in common is how it can erode any clarity you're trying to deliver.

It's a good reminder for me that I'm not impressing anybody with a mastery of jargon. In fact, we shouldn't be thinking about impressing at all. We should be thinking about how to say it simply.