NO Buzz Words!
Buzz Words are composed of jargon that is usually specific to a particular industry. Often we think of the tech industry or medical profession having buzz words, acronyms and jargon that many non-techs can’t understand.
The truth is that many occupations, generations of people, industries, clubs, geographical areas, etc., use words when speaking to each other that outsiders often don’t understand.
When these words are used in a speech to “outsiders,” the message can be hard to understand, and sometimes misinterpreted or lost.
And if someone has trouble understanding your message, they’ll give up trying and won’t “Get It!”
One of the concepts we discuss in the Sandler Sales course I take, is that people don’t like to feel “not OK.” “Not OK” means you’re not in your comfort zone. You don’t understand what you’re seeing and/or hearing. It’s not an emotion we embrace. I know I don’t like to feel “not OK,” and I imagine you don’t either.
The problem with Buzz Words and other verbiage we don’t understand is that it makes us feel “not OK.” And if we’re not OK, we don’t particularly like what’s causing that feeling.
If either the message or the messenger makes us feel “not OK,” we’ll soon tune them out. Their message will not be received.
This same advice should be applied to the verbiage you use with your audience.
Always consider the educational and experience level of the people you’re talking to. Don’t talk above it and try to impress them with the words you know.
The problem is that instead of understanding and digesting the material, your audience is all of a sudden thrown a roadblock. Now, they either have to figure out the meaning of what was said, or skip it and try to catch up to the speaker. A couple of these bumps in the road, and they’ll give up and never “Get It”!
There was a member of my Toastmasters Club who probably forgot more words than I know. I’m sure he gave great speeches, but, for the reasons just stated, I didn’t “get” all of them,
If you’re speaking to smaller groups of people, and you think this might be a problem, early in your talk you can say, “I have a bad habit of using buzz words and jargon from my industry. I know I shouldn’t, and I try not to. However, I do slip up sometimes and will greatly appreciate it if one of you will please raise your hand and stop me and ask what I mean if I fall into that mode. Will you do that for me? Please!”
That may help, but it won’t work as well in large audiences.
Monitor the body language and facial expressions of your audience to see if they are understanding your message.
Bottom line: check and recheck your verbiage.
And while we’re talking about verbiage and language in general: there’s an old adage that says, “If you can’t say it in front of your wife, mother and daughter – don’t.” Keep that in mind for everything from your Opening through your Closing.