The value of simplifying communication: understanding layman's terms


You may wonder why I am writing about layman’s terms. Quick and honest answer: during my English trainings, teaching and coaching, I realised that a lot of my students had never heard of this term!
It’s something I’m confronted with daily: discussing topics or explaining complex ideas in English that are comprehensible to all.

So what is layman's terms: it simply refers to using everyday language to explain complex ideas or concepts. It's about avoiding jargon and specialised terminology in favour of words and phrases that everyone, regardless of background or knowledge in a particular domain can easily understand (put simply: speaking in a clear and straightforward English that can be understood by all). 

The goal is to make information accessible and relatable to a broader audience, promoting better comprehension and facilitating effective communication and learning objectives.

As a coach in Communication and Business English, I realise the significance of transmitting the importance of layman’s terms and helping others to recognise and overcome personal biases or habits in order to adopt a more accessible communication style.

These biases or habits can include:

Habit: People may default to using complex language without considering that their audience may not be familiar with the terminology.

Lack of Awareness: Communicators may not always be fully aware of their audience's level of understanding or the potential barriers posed by complex language.

Cultural Norms: Certain cultural norms or expectations may influence the use of language, leading individuals to use complex language as a sign of intelligence or sophistication.

Difficulty Simplifying Concepts: Simplifying complex ideas while still conveying accurate information can be challenging for some communicators.

Efficiency and Precision: In technical fields, complex language may be necessary for conveying precise details among experts.

Social Status: Individuals may use complex language to signal their education, expertise, or social status.

At its core, prioritising layman's terms encourages reflection on the importance of simplicity and clarity in communication.


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