While attending a conference the other day, I saw a fellow wearing a t-shirt that read, “AAAA” in bright read letters, and underneath were the words, “American Association Against Acronyms.” I had to chuckle.
The use of acronyms is one of the great impediments to clear communication. Acronyms are brief codes or shorthand used by organizations, businesses and the government rather than using a complete title or description. Some people know what they mean while others do not. In today’s world that is cluttered with messages, an acronym code is not a good approach to hope for clear and effective communications.
While watching the cable news channel, MSNBC (an acronym but I don’t know what it means), the anchor person was interviewing a Reuters wire service reporter. As an aside, it is the latest style on cable TV news to simply interview reporters from other news organizations who actually cover the news and have some knowledge. Cable TV news has few actual journalists, just readers.
Anyway, the Reuters reporter used all of my pet peeve cliches in about 30 seconds – “As it were…” ”If you will…” “Basically …” These are junk word phrases which mean nothing, are not relevant and only used to buy time to think of something more lucid to say. Most of all, they are distractions to clear communication.
I once had a client – a CEO of a company – who constantly said, “Like, things like that, and stuff … know what I mean?” during media interviews. Even though reporters would often stop him to say … no, they did not know what he was talking about … he continued. A bad habit.