Who Really Needs Training? Part 3 of 3

Susan EllsworthSeveral years ago, I was on a Federal technical services contract which was managed on the Federal side by someone whose professional expertise appeared to be in an arena  outside of high technology.  Many of us on the contractor side had great difficulty in communicating why certain technical solutions were necessary to implement. The problem? We were using “Geek Speak” and had become so accustomed to using it among ourselves that we did not even realize that not everyone knows Geek Speak.

Fortunately, one of the techs on the contract realized quickly what the problem was and privately explained it to us. By general agreement, he became the translator—and often the spokesperson—for the group when we met with our customer. He often used ordinary, non-computer language and stories to illustrate quite nicely the issues we were working on.

One takeaway from that experience became my  favorite explanation of eMail as it moves from your desktop to my desktop. I have often had to explain to others how eMail moves from my computer to someone else’s computer and how eMail actually goes through several computers before arriving at its destination. The analogy I use is  how a letter or package moves from my hands to a post office or other vendor, where it is sorted and shipped to yet another facility which optionally put on an airplane. It is off-loaded from the plane, transferred to a truck and moved to another facility. Finally, a delivery person brings the letter or package to you. Or you pick it up at a local delivery point. These are events that many of us have seen, and the analogy works quite nicely, with no Geek Speak on my part.

So who really needs training? We do. Even today, with many different ways we communicate with each other and using many different devices, we will be far more effective when communicating with top management when we listen to ourselves and recognize the price that speaking only Geek Speak exacts.


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Who Really Needs Training? Part 2 of 3

Susan EllsworthThe last blog talked about how Technical Services providers (yes, that’s me) need to speak three different languages: Geek Speak, End-User Speak and CEO Speak. The new End-User Speak is a wonderful blend of newly-learned Geek Speak words and phrases—and its own grammars.

It’s not just that words like gravatar,  favicon,  widget, tagging, geotagging, traffic (as it describes numbers of site visitors) , badge (as an electronic image), widget,  plugins, and tagging (clicking on a picture) have crept into the language.  Use the chat feature in FaceBook, and soon you too will be saying “BFN” rather than “goodbye for now.” Direct a comment to someone in LinkedIn, and chances are good that you will use the famous Twitter “@” symbol.Or even the famous #hashtag.


I can just see my arms-waving Toastmasters friends jumping up and down and yelling “That’s JARGON! They need Toastmasters!” Maybe…maybe not. I think it’s simply an opportunity to learn another language. The good news is that you can learn it simply by hanging with people who use it. Read, listen and soon you too will be using End-User Speak. You might even do what some social networking sites have done: invent your own words. Pingback, for example, was invented by WordPress, and explained to its users in context. Of course, it helps if you understand what a ping is. 

We’ll wrap up this three-part blog with more about CEO Speak.

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