All entities, whether people or businesses, want to have their message heard. In order to connect with an audience, sometimes a company or individual will employ buzzwords; you know, those catchphrases that are thrown around like confetti at a parade. Colorful and fun, but lacking substance. This may help make the messenger appear edgy or cool, but can it do more harm than good? Could using these phrases hurt your credibility and dilute your message?

Recently someone introduced me to the concept of Buzzword Bingo, probably better known as BS Bingo. Why had I never heard of this? BS Bingo is popular during large management meetings; every time a speaker uses an already over-used phrase, you check off a box on your Bingo card. Next time you are in a meeting, you could be checking off such gems as “on the same page”, “synergy”, “revisit”, “action item” and “deliverables”. When your card is full you are supposed to stand up and yell “BS”. Now THAT would be a memorable meeting!

Sometimes we must use these words because they are central to our message. But what if we are using them because we really don’t have anything substantive to say? Then it is just “fluff” and our credibility is damaged. Think about writing your first resume. You didn’t have much experience but wanted to impress a prospective employer. Cue the fluff machine! You may have been thinking “works well under pressure”, “excellent multitasker”, and “team player” sound great and really differentiate you from the pack, but I was told recently that those phrases are akin to being proud of tying your own shoes. Not the impression you want to make.

So how do you connect with an audience, get your message across and make a lasting impression? It is actually quite simple:

Get to the Point – Cut the fluff; don’t use ten words when you can use five. Make your message clear and concise. No one will ever complain that a meeting was shorter than expected.

Use Facts, Not Generalities – Back up your message with facts and figures. Quantify what you are talking about rather than speaking in general terms.

Break it Down – Simplify, simplify, simplify. Don’t talk down to your audience, but keep it easy to listen to and absorb. Otherwise, you will lose them as they lose interest in what you are saying.

Be Authentic – Use language you would normally use. If you speech is in a different tone or contains words that aren’t in your vocabulary, you will not sound genuine and sincere.

Ask for Feedback – communication is a two-way process; make sure your audience is on the same page as you. Make sure they have the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback.

Using these five simple tactics, you will engage your audience and effectively deliver your message. You will have them wanting to hear more rather than reaching for their Bingo cards.