You can ramp up engagement or bring it down with one thing, so let’s take a look. If you’ve spent any time in Corporate America, you’ve heard it – a strange language which uses words that are words … but not really words. Of course, I’m talking about buzzwords.
While most industries and companies have their own dialect of buzzwords, they all serve the same purpose. The intention is to create a unique language and improve communication (and make people sound smart), but there are unintended side effects: confusion, lack of understanding, frustration, and even reduced productivity.
Right-size the amount of industry jargon that seems baked-in, but is really disruptive.
Translation: Stop using industry jargon, which affects communication negatively.
While the folks in the breakroom may know what you’re talking about when you use buzzwords, some might not, which means that your customers and prospects are even less likely to know what the heck you mean when you talk about offering “transformational, granular deliverables.”
Even more specifically, you need to stop using industry-specific buzzwords, which are even less commonly known and more off-putting for those who don’t know them. The idea of communication is to connect and engage with people, but if you use words they find confusing or just don’t know, your message will get lost.
2. To Geek, or Not to Geek?
Minimize high-level technical verbiage in order to avoid disenfranchised stakeholders.
Translation: Keep it simple. The less techie-speak, the better.
Obviously, if you’re talking to someone else who’s an expert in your industry, it’s OK to go full-on geek. But don’t count on your customers and prospects having the same high-level knowledge or expertise as you and your colleagues.
Short paragraphs are easy to read. Simple, clear sentences say it, well, simply and clearly. What kind of words would you use to describe something complicated to your 7-year-old nephew? Use those words – they’re the good ones.
3. Drive Engagement by Balancing “Friendly” and “Pro”
Customer-facing communication should be service-oriented and optimized to move the needle as you touch base.
Translation: Talk to your customers and prospects in a friendly, engaging manner.
There really is a “sweet spot” between friendly and professional. Go too far with the industry language and jargon and high-tech descriptions, and you risk alienating customers and prospects. But get too informal, and you might put off some people who expect a certain level of professionalism from their vendors.
Find that sweet spot and adjust your vocabulary choices accordingly.
4. Internal and External Style Should Match
Circle back and drill down with a deep dive through your internal silos and keep everyone in the loop vis-a-vis consistent communication and positioning.
Translation: Your internal communications should be the same as your external efforts.
Consistency is crucial because using the same kind of language for all of your audiences helps to establish your brand voice and maintain your brand. Lots of buzzwords only serve to confuse customers and prospects – as well as the people inside your company.
Employ these next-gen, proactive, game-changing strategies and you’ll be looking at a win-win for your core business. Remember that using these confusing and sometimes meaningless words and phrases – from “benchmark” to “herding cats” to “ideation” – can have the wrong kind of impact on your bottom line.
And please don’t get me started on acronyms.
Are you a Buzzword Bingo game player – or the unwitting subject? Do you have some buzzwords that you use on a regular basis? Post in the comments below. And please share this blog with your social networks if you found it interesting!