By now, we all should know better than to use Corporate Speak, that tangled vocabulary of long, complicated or obscure words, abbreviations, euphemisms and acronyms that has somehow taken hold of businesses everywhere. But here's another reason to avoid this assault on communication: Corporate Speak actually makes your organization dumber.
So I don't need to rant about the evils of Corporate Speak. Instead, I'll share this insight on how you can stop the madness.
It's this simple: Never forget that you're a real person communicating with other people.
Unfortunately, people these days spend so much time feeling like a tiny cog in the wheel, lost in a high-tech maze, reduced to nothing more than a number and a password. So we crave the human touch. We love walking into the local hardware store and knowing the shopkeeper, who gives us advice not based on guiding us to the most expensive solution, but what's best for us ("This 45-cent bolt should do the trick.").
We bring that person-to-person preference to communication as well. (After all, we'd much rather receive a personal letter than an anonymous mass mailing.) But even if we're receiving something from someone we don't know, we'd like to feel that there's a person behind the communication (who, by the way, cares about us and wants to help us.)
The personality of communication is often called "voice." Every communication has a voice--from the bureaucratic tone of government reports to the fun, energetic style of Target ads.
That's why the best way to engage your audience is to uncover your authentic voice and let your wonderful personality come through. By doing so, you yourself into your communication so that your audience can recognize and relate to you.
That means, of course, that you can't lecture. You need to lose that imperious, from-on-high tone and replace it with a friendly, conversational voice. You know what I mean: Write the way you'd speak to a colleague or even a friend. Friends don't let friends use words like core competency, synergy and strategic imperatives.
Your audience wants to hear from you, not from the department or company you work for. This is not the time to hide your light behind your cubicle walls. You need to let the real you--complete with bad jokes, an exhaustive knowledge of Civil War history, and a collection of every song Bruce Springsteen even sneezed on--come through.
This may be a little scary because it means you can't disguise yourself (You know what Bruce sang, "Is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise?") or hide behind your public identities: Mr. MBA.Ms. Director of Training. Mr. VP of Logistics.
No, it should be the real you, creating communication only for the person you're trying to reach. Just the two of you, alone on the porch swing on a summer's evening. The stars in the sky and the cicadas humming. Feels kind of nice, doesn't it?