Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Working With CEOs To Eliminate Jargon, Buzzwords

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Posted by Amanda Walsh

A article by Matt Wilson titled, The war on jargon: For best results, use a scalpel, not an ax, gives some helpful tips on guiding the company CEO to write more effectively and eliminate some overused buzzwords.

As we near the end of 2010, many bloggers and news makers are examining the past year as a whole. We are all looking at the biggest media gaffes from the worst "sound bites" to clichéd buzzwords that everyone is tired of hearing. 

Communicators need to act gingerly when editing and proofreading a manager's writing.  These tips can help a communicator clean up language and cut through the unnecessary jumble --doing away with clichés, overly verbose language and hackneyed business-speak like “leverage” “synergy,” etc. In the end, the outcome should be to streamline a communication piece. Good communication is like art, good communicators therefore, should become masters at crafting and molding language that resonates with the target audience.

* "Establish who the audience is and what response you seek." Once this is ironed out, a CEO is more apt to listen to suggestions

* Engage the CEO by asking, "how can we make this more effective?"

* "How will this wording get the point across? Why is this phrased the way it is?" Instead of automatically saying, this needs to be edited which may offend.

* “Use their favored phrase, and follow it up with a second one in layman’s terms” This technique is used to explain and drive the point home for readers.

* What may be considered jargon to a communicator could make sense to a specific audience.  It is important to outline what is considered jargon and to whom and how to bet effectively communicate with an audience using words they understand.

* Make sure there is a human element to all communications.

* Providing examples of clear communications from other companies and company CEOs to illustrate your point.

A valuable resource for all communicators is the book, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Keep these tips in mind the next time you are given a piece from the CEO that is tricky to proofread.

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