Don’t Be Me will be a series of blogs that I will go over mistakes that I have made throughout my learning journey at The Data School Down Under that I hope others (and myself) can learn from. This is just for me to tell others what not to do even though I do it all the time. In this blog I talk about my experiences with my mistake of not explaining the jargon (special words that are used by a group but difficult for others to understand) but feel free to skip to the How to Explain Jargon section.

Jargon is like an ‘inside’ joke – I don’t get it

If you ever walked into a group conversation that involved a lot of people telling their ‘inside’ jokes to one another that they only share amongst each other but you feel a bit on the outside and you just wish you could get a little context from someone who could fill you in. Be that someone who welcomes others to be a part of that ‘inside’ joke. Once they understand what it means, they will be better equipped to follow the story you are going to tell.

What does it mean? – The mistake I made

In my previous blog, I mentioned using jargon on a topic and how you should be aware of it when you present it to others. In my second week of data school training, I knew the risks but still managed lose everyone’s attention who was listening over the Zoom call while Melbourne was in lockdown. I just wanted to display my line of thinking but I forget that not everyone may follow what is happening. I talked on and on about basketball and the different terms used which left everyone in the dark being unable to tell my story. We are all human and we share many things in common but we all have our own personal interests that is like a foreign language to someone else. This is where talking about a topic that is easily understood by others can become better approach than something you are passionate about but appeals to a smaller audience. Having a topic that meets both criteria is hitting the jackpot.

How to explain jargon – Advice from my personal experiences

  1. Prepare a short background that covers the basics. Try to limit to one minute, if you can and cover the following
    • What are the basics for the audience to understand the story you are going to tell
    • What is the jargon that needs to be explained
    • Keep it relevant – the audience doesn’t need to be experts on the topic
  2. If you don’t know how to explain it, you can always try to Google the definition that might help explain it more simpler
  3. Be prepared to answer questions on the jargon that you used. I’ve noticed that even when I think covered everything I needed for everyone to follow along, sometimes I would get hit back with questions for an explanation so remember try to answer without using more jargon that will confuse the audience even more.
  4. Consider the scope of your viz and think if it is suitable for an audience that is not familiar with the topic.
    • I tend to explore scenarios that makes no sense to anyone but me so only pursue stories that wouldn’t lead to a jungle of jargon.

Thanks for reading and just don’t be me

I hope that you will learn from my mistakes and not to be like me. I will cover more of my mistakes that I have learned throughout my journey at The Data School Down Under in future blogs as part of the Don’t Be Me blog series so keep an eye out for them to learn more.

Kier Bituin
Author: Kier Bituin