Say What You Mean

Buzzwords graphic by Blue Flame Thinking

Every industry has its own language. From acronyms to buzzwords, we all have a verbal shorthand we use at work. And while it might save time when communicating with our coworkers, as content creators, it’s equally important to recognize situations where we need to speak plainly in order to be heard and, more importantly, understood.

SOWs…KPIs…SOS!!

Acronyms are a total time-saver over the course of a business day. Whether you’re writing an email or speaking in a meeting, chances are a few will make their way into the conversation. This is great—if the audience is familiar with them.

Consider the term “KPI.” It’s defined as “key performance indicator,” but, in reality, KPIs can represent a wide range of metrics, from elapsed time to user behaviors. This is why including context—like which metric is being measured, what the goal is and why the metric is important—can improve clarity. Just saying, “We’re making good progress toward our KPIs,” isn’t enough.

And, while terms like “SOW (scope of work)” or “ROI (return on investment)” may be common, defining them on first use as a courtesy to your audience will help ensure your message gets across.

Buzzwords, Buzzkill…or Both?

Another potential speed bump to smooth communication is jargon. Everyone on your team might know what is meant by “level set” or “ducks in a row” when it comes to a campaign or project. But to someone who hasn’t been privy to every meeting or internal conversation, this sort of language may seem meaningless or misleading. Taking the time to explain how a tactic has the potential to reach an untapped market audience—rather than using buzzword shorthand—can make for a more collaborative and inclusive conversation.

Plus, layering on corporate speak can also have the unintended consequence of making it seem like someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about or, maybe even worse, hasn’t done their job and is attempting to dance around that fact.

When you’re in the business of communicating, taking a minute to consider your intended audience and how they receive information—just like you would when creating a campaign—can make all the difference in how your message resonates. After all, you wouldn’t ask your significant other if dinner is solutionized.

 Top 15 Entries on Our Buzzwords Hit List

  1. Let’s align on this later.
  2. Get the ball rolling.
  3. Hot and heavy.
  4. Circle back.
  5. Get it on the books.
  6. Game changer.
  7. 110%.
  8. Peeling back the onion.
  9. Go viral.
  10. Outside the box.
  11. Get buy-in.
  12. Deeper dive.
  13. Customer-centric.
  14. Will this scale?
  15. Hit the ground running.
  16. Wikipedia has a great list here.