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The buzz on Biz-blab

Biz-blab is the new buzzword, and it’s killing corporate communications. It’s a big call, but if your audience can’t understand what you’re saying, or if the message is being lost in an over-abundance of acronyms and corporate-speak, you risk losing traction in the boardroom or the sales arena.

Industry-specific words and phrases usually trickle down from the top – from emails from the boss and internal communications to staff, through to client briefings, advertising copy and even social media posts. Quotes to the media or speeches at business events, blog posts and press releases can be muddied by corporate conflux. Rather than clarity and clear messages, corporate-speak instead creates misalignment between what a company meant to communicate and what the intended audience perceives.

We’ve all shrugged our shoulders and rolled our eyes listening to politicians baffle the electorate with poli-speak. Biz-blab can produce the same response. And just as many of us distrust what our elected representatives tell us, a 2011 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found audiences often view communications filled with buzzwords instead of concrete language as less authentic.

In other words, if your audience can’t understand what you’re saying, you’ll lose their focus, their business and ultimately their attention. It’s no surprise that people tend to believe information when it is explained clearly and simply. Just as when you speak more clearly – when you write more clearly you increase your positive influence.

Although big words, buzz phrases and industry speak may create an illusion of competence and confidence, studies prove more complicated sentences and obscure words actually hinder communication rather than enhance it.

So what can you do to ensure your communications are clear and clever? Firstly, try to identify what words you use on a regular basis that are exclusionary in nature. In other words, those industry buzz words and corporate speak that only you and a handful of others can really understand.

For example, in corporate speak, ‘leverage’ implies the effort involved to do something is very precise and therefore the person taking action is cleverly using minimal resources to create the maximum effect. Having an ‘advantage’ or an ‘edge’ would convey the same meaning, in a much more user-friendly manner.

Whenever you hear a buzzword, ask a question that forces clearer thinking, i.e. think about how you would speak to a friend or someone not in your line of business. If they wouldn’t understand what you were saying then not many others will.

Try to avoid acronyms. Although there are some that may be universal, for example ‘LOL’, industry acronyms will leave the average reader scratching their heads and either guessing at its meaning or giving up in frustration. Even those that may be in more common usage can have alternate meanings in different contexts (LOL can also mean Lots of Love).

Finally, don’t litter your copy with pretentious-sounding words – why write ‘utilize’ when you can substitute ‘use’? The less syllables, the less likely the reader will be left feeling confused.

Ultimately, the one rule of thumb to stick by is not to make assumptions about what your readers or audience may know or understand.

If you need more information about our services and how we can help you, call Mike Holland on 0414 394 440 or email me:
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