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But it is important for executives to kill the jargon. The same language used with other executives must be avoided when dealing with employees. Talk with your staff.
If the company had a great quarter, say so; don’t say “our deliverables enabled us to realize profits.” If the budget is tight and expenses need to be watched, avoid saying “bottom-line realization of projected profits were not met this quarter.”
And please: Tell employees to feel free to “email” you, not “ping” you.
Save the corporate jargon and buzzwords for internal communications between fellow executives (though, even in those cases, it should still be avoided). When talking directly to employees, be clear and be human. When they hear from The Big Boss, they want to see that he or she is a real person and not a suit.
Most employees rarely get to hear from the boss, and when they do, they want to hear it straight, no chaser. This doesn’t mean dumbing-down communications for employees. It means being transparent.
In my years of writing internal and corporate communications, I have had to draft and re-draft many directors’ messages that were filled with jargon, buzzwords or were simply unclear in the messaging.
In a 2012 article in Forbes magazine, Jennifer Chatman, a management professor at the University of California Berkeley’s HAAS School of Business, said jargon can send mixed messages to its receivers.
“Jargon masks real meaning,” Chatman said in the article. “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction they want to give others.”
Employees want more. They want focus, they want clarity, they want a leader that can talk TO them and not AT them. There’s a difference.
For further reading:
This recent blog post from HubSpot is a comedic, but poignant chronicle of a day when the CEO took over their Twitter account.
One thing that really struck me about it was the “Freudian slip” that Brian Halligan made about modern marketing. It got me thinking about a few times where I have been multitasking and accidentally typed something incorrectly on my personal social media network— and hit the “publish” button before I caught it.
Mistakes happen to all of us. But when posting on your business social media accounts is part of your afternoon multitasking, slips of the fingers will happen more often — and they may cost you.
Because most social media posts are extremely short (popular social media network Twitter limits you to 140 characters), it is tempting to type quickly, hit send and get on with your day. But this can be a mistake in and of itself. Your typos may end up being humorous, like the one in that HubSpot article. Or they may end up costing you actual money if you happen to make a mistake talking about a price point, a service date or a product function.
Why risk it? If you are handling your own social media marketing, carve out a portion of your day and dedicate it solely to social media (no multitasking allowed!). Give your social media posts as much consideration as you give your blog posts and sales pitches. Remember, social media is valuable marketing and customer service space too.
Our attention spans are getting shorter in this online age, and keeping your copy concise is more important than ever. But even with shorter blocks of text and more concise writing, a good portion of your visitors still won’t read everything you write.
Skimmers are just as important to your sales as those people who take the time to read each word of your copy — so cater to skimmers (while still providing great content to non-skimmers) with a good scan path.
This advice applies to blog posts, newsletters and sales letters, but is rapidly becoming more important in whitepapers and e-books.
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