How do you avoid business speak and keep your audience interested?

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

The majority of us go through our social lives without worrying about strategic trajectories, silo thinking, transitioning or gaining traction so why do we find ourselves nodding along in business meetings about these things? Have you sat through an hour long presentation and come out of it shaking your head, thinking that you just about understood what the speaker was getting at but you need to do some research to understand it fully? I know I have.

Not once have I sat at home, worrying about the silo that’s being created while my other half is in the kitchen and I’m in the lounge. Yet, time and again, ridiculous business speak takes us over and actually does the opposite of what we were hoping for. Instead of sounding knowledgeable about our subject, we just lose our audience. One example of this was a recent bus magazine, advertising getting the company’s new card system ‘on stream’. Would the bus travelling audience even know what ‘on stream’ means? The new card system is complicated enough without adding business jargon to it – just tell us how to pay for the bus!

So, why do we complicate matters and how can we stop it?

Competition is a big part of human nature and you can view the workplace as a school playground where the ‘I’m better/faster than you, ner, ner’ part of us comes out to play. The view that these kinds of phrases make us superior to others will often come down from management. If a CEO/MD fills his presentations and emails with business speak, the staff will do likewise. Keeping it simple can be as easy as the CEO/MD implementing a plain English policy with the heads of departments, though I’ve yet to see my dream come true of an industry-wide ban on acronyms (and yes, I see the irony of using an acronym to ward people off acronyms!).

Keep It Simple, Stupid isn’t accusing you of being stupid; it’s a knock on the head, reminding you that that simplicity is the key. Simple, straightforward content on your website, in your presentations, publications and meetings will go a long way to keeping your audience’s attention, at least for the ten minutes it takes them before they start doodling or daydreaming.

So, what’s the worse business phrase or acronym you’ve seen or heard? What’s your key to simplicity?