Buzzword bingo for intranet conferences

Are you tired of ‘thinking outside the box’? Well we are too, and according to a recent survey, so are your intranet’s users. In a recent poll, employees admitted to being baffled by workplace jargon ten times a day on average.

In this special pre-conference post, the Intranetizens explain why jargon should be both avoided and embraced, and invite you to test their commitment to clear communication.

Specialist language has its place in the workplace, and on your intranet too (sometimes). But overused, it makes communications hard to understand and web pages difficult to find (if your pages say ‘earth moving implement’ and your colleagues are searching for a spade, your intranet is only going to disappoint).

Internal communicators have traditionally fought the good fight against complicated jargon, but as content management on intranets has become devolved to the business, it’s important anyone with content-editing responsibility understand how to make their communications clear. To avoid your intranet becoming an indecipherable mess of departmental buzzwords, ensure your editors get some training and guidance on best practice and writing for the web.

And for God’s sake, avoid corporate talk in all of your own content. The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or create synergy, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it in your online communications. Before pressing publish, think ‘is there an easier way to say this?’.

That kind of language has it place, though. If you’re talking to execs about your intranet ideas and proposals, you’ll need to speak their language – even if that language is essentially bullshit. The role of the intranet manager is to speak to users and stakeholders about their needs and translate this into a clear, costed business proposal that execs can sign off. That means gaining the trust of your senior execs and budget-holders, by presenting your ideas and findings to them in a way they can understand.

The latest tech buzzwords can also be annoying; but again, they have their place. As we blogged last week, gamification is an ugly word for a generally sound concept. All too many of these words (collaboration, social, engagement) have become thrown around so much that their intent has been lost. But if buzzwords are what’s needed to convince your budget-holders, then it’s a small price to pay.

Intranet managers are a rare breed – as well as speaking the lingo of users across the business, and of execs, we’re fluent in Geek. We take what users tell us and translate this into solid requirements that can be turned into functioning pages and software by our friends in IT. There are few roles which see you involved with – and talking to – such a wide range of stakeholders as intranet management. That’s what makes it one of the finest jobs around.

But you don’t need to talk in buzzwords to talk about intranets, and we and Intranetizen try not to. We tells it as it is, keep it real, etc. And to prove that, we are inviting those of you who are attending Interaction next week to hold us to it.

We’ve produced a series of Intranet Buzzword Bingo cards for you to download and use when we appear at Interaction Intranet Conference next week, and any conferences we speak at in the future.

Pick one of these five cards, then listen out as we try to get through our lightning presentations without using too much intranet jargon.

Card 1Card 2Card 3Card 4Card 5

If you can get through a whole presentation (let alone a whole conference) without checking off more than one buzz word from your card – you are probably at a great conference learning some great new things… or you have stumbled into the wrong place and you’re at a AA meeting, or something.


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  1. drew stephenson

    I think there’s a clear difference between jargon and management-speak though. Jargon is a short-hand used by experts in that field, and in that limited area it has a value. Management speak is designed to bamboozle and make the simple seem complex so that a further investment in management-consultancy materialises.
    Jargon is like sex, it’s fine in private between consulting adults. (wish I could remember who came up with that)
    Management speak shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere outside the budget bid…

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