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As a presenter or a public speaker you really do want to mind your language. Now, that's not a call to arms for non-speak or politically-correct language. Because there's a whole set of social issues with the language difficulties experienced by the likes of Eamonn Holmes. No, our primary concerns are audience engagement, understanding and clarity.

Mind your language

Mind Your Language When You Next Give A Presentation Or Speech

Because when you want to achieve great things with your next presentation or speech then you want to mind your language. So, avoid abbreviations, acronyms, jargon and obscure words.

This Office of Budget Responsibility presentation from Robert Chote simply brimmed with abbreviations. To such an extent that a big chunk of his audience was baffled. So, it's always something to avoid.

OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility) TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviations)

  • CPI Inflation
  • RPI Inflation
  • Claimant count unemployment
  • EFO
  • CACB

Indeed, we nearly fell into the abbreviation trap with our recent story about the incoherent acceptance speech at the People's Choice Awards (PCA) in Santa Monica. Nearly. Because in the nick of time we realised that there's also a Principal Component Analysis (PCA), a Property Care Association (PCA), Physical Culture Association (PCA) and a Professional Cricketers Association (PCA). And, no doubt, many others. So, it's best to be wary and mind your language.

Of course, our politicians love a bit of jargon. Even if we don't. For example, this Howard League For Penal Reform speech by Sadiq Khan MP in 2013 was littered with jargon.

Evidence-based policy making

Hence it really is no surprise that surveys are always telling us there's a presentation jargon problem.

Mind Your Language With Business Jargon

But equally, in business you might also want to mind your language. Since we heard Eric Schmidt of Google at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas use some impressively obscure language.

Microsoft’s trapped in an architectural transition problem they may not get through.


…what people really care about is an interoperable ecosystem of apps.

Politics Jargon Language

Also in a 2010 John Kerry speech in Tokyo we heard the Secretary of State use some impressive new word formations.

North Korea must immediately stop its provocative speech and behavior, and show it is taking specific steps toward denuclearization.

Of course, this is great material from America's first diplomat.

Mind Your Language With These Tips


Engage Your Audience

You have a real job on your hands to engage your audience. So, you might as well avoid abbreviations, acronyms and jargon. Because your audiences typically don't engage with this material.  


Help Your Audience To Understand

When your audience understands you then you are nearly there with your presentation, so help them. Aim to rehearse your presentation beforehand and delete all the jargon or odd language. If you have to use a different language, such as this speech, then you must rehearse.


Speak Clearly

When you want more effective presentations, then speak clearly. Mind your language, speak slowly and remember to pause. And, remember to use speaker notes, especially if you intend to use Latin, such as quid pro quo.

You can always find great presentation tips with more than 100 tips, podcasts and videos for more confident presentations. And, when you are ready to push your own presentation skills that bit further, then please don't hesitate to get in touch.


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About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK.

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