Image Source: Maxim Talmatchi

How to Turn Proptech Speak Into Plain English

Christian Allred


Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. — George Orwell

The proptech industry is full of lingo.

I’m talking big data, venture capital (VC), building information modeling (BIM), and even the term “proptech” itself.

If you’re in the industry, you may know what all these terms mean. But others (including those you sell to) might not. And if you try to use the same jargon on them, you’ll lose their attention fast.

So here are some quick tips on how to breakdown proptech ideas into simple writing that anyone can understand:

1. Pare sentences down to their lowest terms

It is no secret that in hospitality and property rental businesses, customer satisfaction can be achieved through adequate property maintenance.

That’s a sentence from an article in Proptech-X.

Here’s the thing. None of the words in the sentence are particularly hard to understand. But when strung together like that in a long jumble, they turn into bland corporate speak — an instant turn-off for readers.

So tip #1 is to pare it down.

Reduce your sentences to their lowest terms and leave out what the reader doesn’t need to know. Anything extra is just noise that distracts.

If you like algebra, think of it this way:

11+5+3y = 2+3y+a is the same as saying 14=a. So why not just say the latter?

By canceling out equal terms on both sides of the equation, you get rid of the unnecessary and make the equation much clearer.

The same goes for writing. When you get rid of all the words that don’t add meaning, you end up with the same thing without all the fluff:

It’s no secret that taking care of your property will keep customers happy.

The revised sentence may have lost some nuance, but has it lost anything essential? No, it gets right to the point, and the reader understands just as much if not more because it’s easier to digest.

Always remember the reader. Your job as a writer isn’t to show off your knowledge but to get your ideas across. In fact, when it comes to writing, fancy industry words are the telltale of an amateur, not an expert.

2. Use active verbs that convey direction and motion

Our language is full of verbs used as metaphors. For example, the chorus to Halsey’s 2018 song Without Me starts like this:

Tell me how’s it feel sittin’ up there
Feeling so high but too far away to hold me
You know I’m the one who put you up there

The singer uses the image of placing someone up (as if on a shelf) to say that she’s responsible for their success.

The metaphor gets the idea across quickly because it taps into our intuitive understanding of direction and motion:

  1. Everyone understands the physical direction of up.
  2. Everyone understands the motion of placing an object somewhere.

You can do the same thing to explain proptech ideas. Instead of using lots of nouns, use active verbs.

Take this sentence from the Wikipedia article on proptech, for example:

Advances in the residential side of real estate technology encompass a number of target areas, but generally aim to reduce friction in the purchase, sale, or rental of a property.

You could improve it by saying:

Residential proptech helps you cut through the process of buying, selling, and renting property.

Instead of bombarding the reader with nouns, you give them the image of “cutting through” something, which helps pull them through the text. Even just switching the last three nouns into verbs gives it a little more pep.

One final tip here: try to use active over passive voice. You’ve probably heard that a thousand times, but now you understand why. Active voice is better at showing motion and direction.

3. Write like you’re speaking to someone one on one

However skilled you are at crafting sentences, nothing beats plain English.

Why? Because getting readers to understand what you have to say is what’s most important. If they don’t, it won’t matter what you’ve written. To reach people, you need to write in their language.

One way to do this is by reading your writing out loud. If this sounds excessive, you’re wrong. We tend to gloss over things when reading in our head, especially if it’s our own writing. But when you read aloud, you’ll catch awkward phrasings and word choices that you wouldn’t otherwise.

If something doesn’t roll off the tongue, try to say it differently. Make it seamless. You want readers to have as little trouble as possible getting from one sentence to the next.

Another way to engage readers is to write in the second person. That means using the pronouns “you” and “your” and so on. This is because addressing your readers directly (the way I am right now) automatically makes them feel more involved.

So instead of writing:

Seeing a project from a restricting point of view can be dissatisfying and limit the options of conveying information.

Write something like this:

Look. I know it’s hard to get your message across without the right equipment.

The second sentence is way easier to understand because it sounds like a regular conversation. And it’s more relatable because it sounds like the author is talking directly to you.

Which version would you rather read?

Your turn

So to wrap it up, my 3 tips for writing better proptech copy are:

  1. Pare sentences down to their lowest terms.
  2. Use active verbs that convey direction and motion.
  3. Write like you’re speaking to someone one on one.

If you implement all three, you’ll reach way more readers. I guarantee it.