Part of the problem is the speed of production these days. We don’t take the time needed to be precise with language, to think about the best, most straightforward way to say what we want to say. It’s so easy to fall back on stale expressions and terminology not well understood beyond the bounds of our field.
Here are two quick free ways for noprofits and foundations to check their writing for these enemies of communication. These tools should be right up there with spellcheck and readability tests in your final editing process.
First we have HubSpot’s new Gobbledygook Grader. Just cut and paste your copy, provide your email, click Grade Content, and you immediately get feedback telling you exactly which words are gobbledygook. It also tells you the readability level of your writing. (Note: the email report feature for this tool seems to work only for press releases. Hat tip to Jamila!)
Then there’s the Communications Network’s Jargon Finder–a list of jargon especially related to the nonprofit sector. You have to comb through your writing yourself to spot these. Not that hard really, and well worth the effort.
Now, go forth and un-gobbledygook!