Thursday, April 14, 2005

Bizniss Speak

What is it with corporate communicators? So often we arrive at work as normal people, switch on our PCs and forget the rules of dialogue. Normal language is replaced by a weird hybrid comprising management speak, jargon and a skewed formality that we'd never use when talking to you face to face.

I can understand having to unmangle Byzantine word structures when editing source material from line and project managers for speeches, presentations and the like, but I'd expect more from people who's job is to get people talking within and around their own organisations.

We spend our working lives preaching the benefits of putting yourself in the receiver's shoes when it comes to organisational communication, but too often merely ape how we perceive CEOs should speak. In doing so, we're in danger of missing the connection with our audiences and creating barriers rather than breaking them down.

In the 80s and 90s there was a drive for using plain English to communicate - but often this missed the point too, over simplifying what needed to be said, and creating a patronising 'nanny English' that underestimated the intelligence of those on the receiving end.

It's that intelligence that has to be the start point for finding the right words, the right tone and the right emphasis for communications designed to engage, involve and inspire.

Our audiences are generally bright and well informed. With so many information sources vying for their attention, our words have to grab them. To grab them they need to resonate; to be familiar; to be in the parlance they're comfortable with.

People don't talk in management speak or over-formally with their families or friends. So why should we impose it at work?

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