Here’s the text from some SPAM I got yesterday:
[You’re invited to a] special conference that will focus on defining new strategies to not only sustain current DA and Operator Services operations, but to generate new directions for future revenue growth. We believe our industry is on the cusp of a major paradigm shift. These two days will be dedicated to spelling out how DA and Operator Services organizations can benefit from that change and provide an exclusive forum unparallel in networking opportunities.
I have no idea how I got on this list, and I had to read it over three times to figure out what “DA and Operator Services” means.
Clearly I never should have received this email. These folks bought a list and spammed people. First, they’ve violated the core tenet of permission marketing, which Seth Godin describes as “Anticipated, personal and relevant messages delivered to people who actually want to get them.” But that’s not my point here.
Instead, I’d like you to ask yourself: how often do I say or write sentences that are the equivalent of “This special conference will focus on defining new strategies to…sustain current DA and Operator Services?” You know, sentences like, “Our M&E team’s analysis showed significant impacts on women’s empowerment indicators and childhood mortality statistics in line with our broader pursuit of the MDGs.” Huh????
Language defines who’s in and who’s out. There’s someone out there for whom “DA and Operator Services is self-explanatory.” That person ain’t me.
There’s also someone who knows what M&E (“monitoring and evaluation”) and the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) are. But that person probably isn’t most people, and you have to be very conscious of when you are and are not speaking to a specialized audience.
In truth, even the people who get the acronyms would benefit from you speaking clearly and using plain English. Acronyms and industry-speak are usually a crutch, and there’s almost always someone in the room who’s too timid to admit that they don’t know the acronyms and what they mean.
Better yet, you might discover that writing (or speaking) in a way that most people will understand forces you to sharpen your own thinking AND makes you a better communicator to boot.
(Oh, and if you’re desperate to go to the “DA and Operator Services” conference, let me know. I’ve got all the details.)