Leadership Follies – Clearly Speaking

Buzzword Bingo

Have you ever been in a business meeting or conference and hear someone in the audience whisper loudly “BINGO!” If so, they were probably entertaining themself by playing along in an under-the-radar-game called Buzzword Bingo.

There is nothing more confusing than to try to figure out exactly what is meant by jargon-laden sayings.

Early on, trendy business sayings probably had meaning in a certain context.  But, like every “catchphrase” the saying gets woven into every imaginable usage, most of which make little if any sense.

Why is that?  Why do folks in the business community try to come up with “snazzy” ways to say things to get their points across?

Likely, people use catch-phrases or jargon because it is meant to make them sound smarter. But, in the end using such business buzzwords can cause more confusion and sometimes even resentment.

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Generate Your Own Business Buzzword Bingo Card Here

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Less is More, More or Less

Recently, I worked with a client that was trying to tell his team that the VP they were presenting to wanted to see concise presentations that got their points across quickly and effectively.

He told them that, “Remember less is more.”

One of his employees was confused.

To explain himself, my client said “You know… you have to be able to do more with less.”

As you can imagine, that did not clear things up at all.

His employees created a presentation with no more than 3 bullets on a page, using abbreviations and pictures.

The end product was confusing.

Less, in this context, ended up being less.

Post Mortem

Later, I thought about what happened. It was confusing because less is, actually, less.  However, if my client meant that his VP wanted to see short, effective presentations that came to the point quickly then his employees would have been able to grasp that right away.

As a leader, it is incredibly important to be clear and precise with wording choice.  Using jargon-laden sentences does not make you sound smarter, really.  It actually can add to confusion. Often people have no idea what the saying means, because originally it was said in a particular context.  Outside of that context, the saying does not have the punch or power that it did.

It just sounds limp and pretentious.

If you are trying to say something important to which people should pay close attention, use words and phrases that everyone can understand quickly and easily.

In most cases this means use real words in the way they were intended.  Buzz words are fun and sometimes funny.  But in our global economy, it is important that we are careful about our word choice.

Remember the bottom-line is that you have to take the low-hanging fruit by addressing the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

(Translation – say things directly in a few clearly understood words is important.)

So how often do you have to listen to business buzzwords at your organization? How bad does this get in particular departments or in specific industries? Are you guilty of looking for that “out-of-the-box win-win-win” line in your dialect or directives?

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Anil Saxena
is a Senior Consultant and Business Partner with Coffman Organization

He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
Email |LinkedIn|Web |Blog |888-999-0940 x-730

Image Sources: wowfeed.com

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