Value-added, out-of-the-box… nothing!

Could someone have played buzzword bingo during your last pitch, team meeting, or presentation? Employees in the video below definitely could, enduring a rah-rah talk about "goal-oriented, disruptive, Web 3.0" nothingness.

Jargon gushes out of us like water from a busted fire hydrant - when will we shut off the main line? We latch on to these phrases frequently because of the Curse of Knowledge (sounds oxymoronic at first doesn't it?). As you become more expert in your field, it's extremely hard to imagine not knowing what you know. This has hugely negative effects on your communication, and can curse you in to using language that seems straightforward in your head, but is vague and abstract to anyone else.

Yeah yeah, Ben. But my colleagues and I use the same jargon, so it's not vague to us. Even if your colleagues use common buzzwords, you're not safe from abstraction! That's the thing about jargon -- it can mean different things to different people. Avoid jargon, or at least define yourself with an example.

Let's take this for a spin: say you're rolling out a new emailing process that will improve your team's efficiency. Improved efficiency seems great, people love the sound of it, so what's the problem? Efficiency alone doesn't provide a concrete image to your listener - they can't "see" efficiency. Unpack that abstraction with an example.

"For instance, John, how annoying and redundant is it for you to send an email to our scheduler, then another to our office manager, and then another different email to our accounting department? This new process will allow you to turn 3 steps in to 1, freeing up your time."

John is much more likely to support the new emailing process now that he can visualize improved efficiency and why it would matter to him.

Kick the Curse of Knowledge -- get rid of the buzzwords, or define them. Here are some usual suspects, and suggestions:
  • Added value (Right, who doesn't want it. Instead, try "Want some results? Then...")
  • Data integrity ("Why does this matter? You could cut your spending 3x by sending me only one mailer, instead of one to Ben Decker, another to Benjamin Decker, and third to Ben C. Decker.")
  • Total cost of ownership ("Our competitor's offering is free like a puppy is free.")
Why don't you try your hand at...
  • Responsive
  • Fantastic Service
  • Seamless interaction
  • Greater reliability
  • Big savings
  • Growth opportunities
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