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Posts Tagged ‘Influenza A/H1N1’

Pork Talk: Vividness Beats Jargon

Friday, May 1st, 2009

If you want people to remember what you tell them, vivid phrases stick better than jargon.

Vividness put pictures in their mind. It helps them understand. It helps them remember.

If you were describing the stock market, for instance, you could say “the shares exhibited a modest, temporary recovery after a major fall in value, after which the downward trend continued.”

Or you could say “a classic dead cat bounce“. Shorter, better, longer-lasting.

And “pork barrelling” sounds much better than “unfair distribution of funding to influence voting”.

Speaking of pork, I’m feeling a little sorry for the pork producers of the world at the moment. They have rightly pointed out that you can’t catch any kind of flu from eating pork. You’d have to kiss a live pig, and even then, only in the right spot*.

The pork producers have persuaded the World Health Organization to re-name swine flu. So if it’s OK with you, please refer to it as Influenza A/H1N1 from now on.

As in “Run for your lives! There’s an overturned truckload of sneezing pigs in the front yard! If we don’t get out fast we’ll all get Influenza A/H1N1!”

How many people outside of WHO and the International League of Pork Producers will actually use that term? Or be able to remember it at all? Rounded to the nearest whole number: zero.

‘Swine’ is too good a mental image. And as a communication device, it spreads much faster than the disease itself.

Many complex subjects, products and processes have interesting nicknames that you use around the office. Share them with your audience: it’ll help them bring the subject to life.

* Mexico.