Federal plain writing practitioners may find it hard to engage with their colleagues, and formal plain language training programs can sometimes be a difficult sell to leadership.
One agency developed an entertaining exercise to promote plain language practices by focusing on a common enemy of the plain writer: jargon.
Laura Rabuck, a research health science specialist and lead content strategist at the Veterans Health Administration, created a “Jargon Madness” tournament-style bracket. It’s modeled after a similar annual college basketball-themed bracket. In this version, jargon battles for the title of “Most confusing” based on votes.
Jargon Madness is a plain language conversation starter that cuts across the organizational chart. It offers engagement and education. Unlike a meeting or a scheduled training, it’s a fun, asynchronous activity that staff can participate in when they have time.
If you want to host a Jargon Madness event at your agency, consider the following:
- Confirm leadership buy-in and if there’s an audience.
- Confirm your champions/sponsors and partners.
- Confirm staffing support.
- Confirm language with your general counsel.
- Decide bracket size and corresponding timeline.
- Decide (and test) where you’ll host it and how voting will work.
- Decide how to identify jargon.
- Develop a marketing plan, however small (but mighty!).
- Research and draft ideas for education.
- Decide on post-event survey.
Start now! Next March will arrive quickly.