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.
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