Master Your Message Blog

Axe the Acronyms in Your Presentation

Acronyms are the speed bumps of communication!

United Nations logo

The United Nations

Oh, there’s a great use for them, but it’s not often in widespread, important communication – certainly not presentations.  Usually they’re best kept within tight-knit groups. You see, they’re just not great communication; they don’t promote clarity.

I received an email from a Toastmasters buddy just this morning. He asked me for login information for accessing the TMI site.

I had to step back a minute or two and think to myself, “What is TMI?” And after a minute or two it came to me … “Of course, Toastmasters International.” He must be looking for some information for logging in as a local club on the international website.

And then in the next sentence, he asked me if our club email address was the UN. At that point, I had no idea what he was talking about and emailed him back with the question, “What on earth is a ‘UN’?”

Lo and behold, it’s a “username.” Now I’m a bit of a web guru but have never heard of a username being referred to as a UN. Scratching my head, I had to email back several hours later saying I had no idea how to get into the “mothership” site.

Gobbledygook: language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use
of abstruse technical terms; nonsense.

Now, this evening as I sit here, I see another email go by from a past president, trying to clear up the matter, because, as it turns out, the original emailer was actually asking for the username and password for our local site. Now, THAT – I could have provided!

Acronyms get pretty close to “gobbledygook” in terms of usefulness. If you’re communicating with a small group and you know that they know the meaning of the acronyms you’re using, go for it.

But, if you’re communicating with a larger audience, stay away from them. They create confusion, misunderstanding, and can waste a huge amount of time. In presentations, they serve to shut the audience out of your message.

Ironic that it was Toastmasters!

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