"Please interrupt me if I use an acronym or term you don't understand"

by @edent | # # # | 1 comment | Read ~190 times.

This isn't a new speaking tip - and it is one I've stolen from several other speakers on the conference circuit - but I want to explain how it made me feel to use it.

I started my talk at Hackference Birmingham with an impassioned plea to the audience. If you don't understand something I've said - please don't wait for the end of my talk. Stick your hand up and ask. Because I guarantee you, several other people will be just as confused.

Hackference attracts a mixed crowd. If I'm talking to a bunch of GovTech nerds, I probably don't need to explain what HMG stands for. If I'm talking to expert JavaScript programmers, I can take it as read they'll know the difference between an integer and a float. But for a talk which attracts the interested amateur, it is polite to let them know that they're welcome to ask for more inclusive language.

Here's a few of the acronyms I threw around without thinking:

  • DNS
  • DRM
  • W3C
  • PR (Pull Request)

When I do Science Communication, I try to ensure that every new concept is defined as it is used. There are people who use the web every day who have no idea what HTML is, or what it stands for.

So I have two requests for you, gentle reader. Firstly, tell your audience that you're comfortable being asked to clarify things. Secondly, if you're in the audience and feeling confused, stick your hand up.

One thought on “"Please interrupt me if I use an acronym or term you don't understand"

  1. Christina says:

    We had a similar thing for arts meetings. At one we had a bell and every time someone used a jargon term that not everyone would understand you could ring the bell.

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