Young Boy ColoringDo you want to create a real paradigm shift, join a tiger team, raise the bar or move the needle? That’s great, you get a gold star! But unless you are trying to create distance between you and your customers, keep it off your social media posts, says business writer Karen Yankovich.

Yankovich says the over-use of these pompous and long-winded phrases could soon be listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Yes, this affliction known “Jargon Madness” is a real disease (at least according to Forbes Magazine), and the poison of the business world. It creates a communication hurdle for your customers and can leave them feeling confused and alienated rather than engaged.

Words and phrases like “synergistic,” “value-added,” “best practice,” “core competency,” and “intrinsic value,” are not only annoying and pretentious sounding, they’re also useless. They should be dumped in the trash–or at least responsibly recycled. So grab a red pen and get ready to do some slashing with the help of the following tips:

IMG_0974Write as if you’re writing to your aunt: OK, it doesn’t have to be your aunt. It could be your really smart uncle. The point is you want to write it clearly and simply enough that the average reader can understand exactly what you are trying to say but without insulting their intelligence.

Read it out loud: Does it sound natural and flowing or do you find stumbling over vernacular speed bumps?

Don’t be verbose: Are you using terms that are understood by people in your department or agency but would confuse your customers? Worse yet, does your writing resemble a can of alphabet soup? When you talk about your company’s values, name them and describe why they are important to you. Be specific.

Remember your audience: People are on social media to engage in a casual atmosphere with friends and acquaintances and have fun. As Yankovich says in her Four Steps To Jargon Recovery, “show your clients how amazingly refreshingly non-robotic you are with stories and images from your real life, all pointing to specific results you will achieve from them.”

For more examples, check out this hilarious glossary of “most annoying business jargon” published by Forbes Magazine. The Economist Magazine also lays out this handy style guide for its writers.

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