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As an event management student who is keen to get on in your career my guess is that you will have been networking with people in the industry and presenting your business cards.

My guess is that you were doing well until the moment when someone said “so just what do you think of our DDR?” or “what exactly does the work of the JMIC aim to accomplish?” – Now at this point you either answered perfectly or you would have experienced a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and wondered how to remove yourself from this now difficult conversation.

Just looking at the image above if you mentioned AIBTM to anyone outside of the events industry I would imagine they wouldn’t understand what you were talking about. But to benefit you now and for your future let’s walk through the various languages that you will come across. I’ll also provide some signposts and tips on where to go for information to enable you to become very good at the languages you will need to master


1. The Language of Business

If you walk into any office you have to know the difference between gross and net profit, what turnover is, what strategy means, whether leadership is actually just really management, and so on. The list is endless.

I can tell you now that there are many businesses out there not knowing these basic terms.

So get ahead and make sure you can walk into any boardroom with confidence.


2. Industry Language (Jargon)

This is where it becomes more involved. You now have to know the business language and also the specifics of the industry you work in. This is really understanding the jargon (and there is so much of it)

Simple questions that you need answers to:

What is ROI?

What is ICCA?

Is MICE still a recognized term?

I’ll stop there as the list is one that never ends. Every day new words are being created, shortened or abused in some way.

The Problem with Jargon:

There is so much of it

It keeps flourishing Some people actually think it is good to speak/write in jargon

It doesn’t help anyone who is not inside the industry

However, all that being said, you have to know all this jargon so that you can act accordingly. You have to know what it all means.


3. Overseas Jargon

So now you understand the language of business and you are mastering the industry language (jargon) so all is going well. I just need to add a third language for you and that is the one that is just as important as the first two which is overseas industry jargon.

There are many jokes about USA/English translating the same language but in reality it is true a lot of the words on both sides just don’t have the same meaning and this can lead to all sorts of confusion.

For example;

Pants in the UK are entirely different to pants in the US.

I can talk to you about “reaching out” in the States but in the UK we might just say “getting in touch”.

The same rationale applies to other countries and you have to know that what you are communicating is being translated correctly.


Why You Have To Understand all 3 Languages

This is simple because not being able to communicate effectively will limit your career opportunities in a big way.

Event professionals; will soon work out if you really know the industry, overseas colleagues will worry if you keep using your own language and not theirs, and business people outside of events will not take you seriously if you can only talk in your industry jargon.

Let’s not forget that you actually need a fourth language to understand and that is for your day to day conversations when you are not with work colleagues but you are just socialising with friends in your leisure time.


Relax There is Good News and an Opportunity for You

The good news is that there are numerous sources of help that you can call upon to enable you to become bi -lingual and many event professionals will not mind you asking questions because after all you are just starting your career.

The opportunity is that by taking the time to truly understand the languages you will differentiate yourself in a major way.

I still come across so many people that can only speak in jargon and (worse still) people that are not prepared to help their customer by presenting a proposal in a way that the customer will understand.



The subject of language will keep evolving and you have to move to its pace to make sure you stay ahead in your career.

People will keep speaking in jargon but you don’t need to follow.

Use the jargon when necessary but if you don’t need to then you can differentiate yourself by communicating in a way that can be easily understood.


Seven Top Tips

Start now – Read business books, business news, trade press, etc

Watch industry videos and listen to industry podcasts

Become familiar with the many event associations & visit their websites often

Read the industry business books – CMP, CIC, APEX Codes

Talk to people in the #eventprofs community on Twitter

Read blog posts and become familiar with industry language

Ask questions


Remember this is another of those business tasks that will always need your attention


Lessons are to be shared

Our Lessons blog is specifically aimed at students and new entrants in the events sector.

Please share posts with your friends and colleagues. That’s all we ask.

Nothing more, nothing less. Just share and let’s help develop the events sector together.