When you spend your time making digital content, it can become easy to forget that, shockingly, not everybody understands the digital world. And when you’re writing the documents for your case, you need to be able to communicate with lawyers, judges, or whoever’s reading your case. It may be a clerk totally unfamiliar with the inner workings of the internet, or an intern who speaks English as their second language.
The goal for you is that no matter who reads (or hears) your side of the case, they should be able to understand it perfectly.
After getting involved in so many of these cases over the years, I have learned how to break digital content cases down to the lowest common denominator. Here are some of the most helpful ways to get your point across, regardless of who’s listening.
Communicate With Lawyers, Tip #1: Stay away from jargon completely.
That might seem obvious, but if you’ve been in your digital field for years, it’s easy to forget that some terms you use all the time actually count as “jargon.” Aim for simple, and then go even simpler. Some good examples of simple, simple language:
Also important: simple language doesn’t need to feel patronizing. It can actually be a mark of respect that you’re willing to turn this concept inside out so you can include your audience in the conversation.
Below, some examples of simple explanations for common digital content:
Explain a podcast simply:
“I interview people and record the interview. Then I take that audio and make it available on my website where users can download it for X amount of dollars. I found it on this website. They were selling it, and I did not give them permission to do that.”
Explain an e-course simply:
“I teach a course about creating better business practices. I create presentation slides with the course information, and then lecture over them. These lectures are recorded as videos, and I make these videos available on my website for a fee.
Students must buy the course for X amount of dollar to get access to the videos. I found these videos on this website, where they were selling them, and I did not give them permission to do that.”
Explain an Instagram comic account simply:
“I make drawings, and then make them available on a social media account where users can see the drawings and interact with them by leaving a comment about the drawing, or telling me they liked the drawing. Because people like and recognize my style of drawing, brands sometimes pay me to make drawings for them.
Fans also donate to me in exchange for more drawings, which supports my career. I found this drawing of mine on a t-shirt on this website, where they were selling it, and I did not give them permission to do that.”
Communicate With Lawyers, Tip #2: Use familiar comparisons.
Another great way to explain a concept that’s completely unfamiliar is by comparing it to something that’s totally familiar.
I like to compare digital content to cars, because cars are something that basically everyone has some experience with. For example, imagine you own a car lot, and there’s an empty parking lot across the street. You close up Friday, come back Monday, and…all your cars are gone.
You look across the street, and there are all of your cars being sold by whoever had the parking lot. Wait a minute–how’d those cars get across the street? Did they have permission to take them across the street? Absolutely not. They stole them.
In a flash, digital piracy becomes tangible and easy to understand, even if you only use a computer to play Solitaire.
Below, some other easy comparisons:
Explain a blog with comparisons:
“A blog is like a printed paper magazine, except it’s all online. Let’s say you wrote a magazine and published it every week. Then one day, you find a magazine that has one of your articles in it–except they never asked your permission, you never got paid for it, and your name isn’t even on it.”
Explain an email newsletter with comparisons:
“An email newsletter is like sending a paper flyer in the mail to people that want more information about your company. The flyer has dates of upcoming events, and sometimes, the flyer is actually a magazine article. One day, you pass by a bulletin board that has one of your flyers up–except they scratched out your name and they’re making people pay to look at the flyer.”
Explain a Facebook Live video with comparisons:
“A Facebook Live video is like you’re hosting a talk show in front of a live studio audience. Everything happens without being edited, and people can tune in, like people watching a talk show live on TV or a live news program.
Now imagine that you found a website with one of your talk show episodes, but the website is making people pay to watch it. This website did not ask your permission to do this.”
Even though it might seem a little strange to explain digital content terminology that feels so basic and second-nature, clear communication is always in your best interest! It’s important to understand that judges or attorneys may not be familiar with your line of work, so to get everyone on the same page, commit to simplifying as much as possible.