If you’re like most professionals, you use abbreviations and acronyms on a daily basis. The more complex and technical our work environment, the more likely it is that jargon and complex titles will be shortened to a series of letters. Although they can be a time saver and make communication more concise, they can also be confusing. Here are four simple tips you can use to make sure acronyms are helping and not hindering your communication:
- When you say an acronym out loud, make sure you pronounce each letter clearly and at a slow pace. Acronyms can be confusing to begin with—if you rush your words and run your sounds together, there’s a very high chance your listener will be confused. Make sure you say each and every sound (particularly at the end of words), and pause between each letter.
- Does your audience know the acronym? It’s easy to get caught up in our own professional world and forget that not everyone uses the same terms on a regular basis. An acronym which may be basic to you may be completely new to your listener. When speaking, don’t ask if your listener knows what the acronym means, just say the full phrase the first time you use it, (e.g., “This number includes VAT, value added tax.”) Likewise, in writing, the first time you mention the abbreviated phrase, write the full phrase first, followed by a parenthetical abbreviation (e.g., “Here is a list of our key performance indicators (KPI).”) After that initial use, feel free to just use the acronym.
- Know whether convention dictates to say each individual letter or to pronounce the abbreviation like a word. For example, ASAP (as soon as possible) is often pronounced as a word (a sap), while FYI (for your information) is pronounced as the individual letters. Ask a trusted colleague or simply check on the internet to see how a given acronym is used.
Check out the following video by Corporate Speech Solutions founder and President, Jayne Latz to learn more about how to effectively incorporate acronyms into your daily professional life:
Want to learn more? Give me a call at 212-308-7725 or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!
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