Resolution for 2012: cut the communication clutter

Leave it to the Onion‘s funny folks to get a serious point across about how poorly some of us communicate.

I’m referring to this recent bit of satire about our commander in chief’s communication style:

In Major Gaffe, Obama Forgets To Dumb It Down

CINCINNATI—In a serious miscalculation that may prove devastating to his bid for a second term, President Barack Obama neglected Tuesday to simplify a statement to the point where it could readily be grasped by anyone with the vocabulary of an 8-year-old.

“Instead of saying, ‘There are many global variables at work here, and unless they all fall into place, we could find ourselves back in a recession,’ he should have just said, ‘Times are hard. We gotta be strong,'” said Washington Post political correspondent Brian Meltzer, noting that Obama’s statement during a speech on job creation was met with dumbfounded looks and audible gasps from the crowd.

“Americans are so used to meaningless homespun homilies, they don’t know what to do when they’re treated like thinking adults. The president has to understand that if he goes out there throwing around words like ‘currency’ and ‘economy,’ he’ll end up being branded an elitist.” In an attempt to correct the error, Obama concluded his speech with the words “Jobs good. No jobs bad. God bless America.”

Obama isn’t the only one with a communications problem. Leaders of many organizations — from CEOs to college and university leaders — have a hard time communicating clearly. That’s because the world of business, education and technology thrives on obfuscation and tossing about empty buzzwords.

I recently attended a meeting where the speaker, introduced as “a good communicator,” talked about what he planned to do “on a go-forward basis.” What does that even mean? I think he was talking about his plans for the future, but I’m not entirely sure.

And then a couple of weeks ago I was editing a document on our campus when I came across this doozie:

Resources have been allocated to incentivize faculty members to convert their face-to-face lectures to lectures delivered by electronic media utilizing the internet.

I revised that slightly to read:

We have made funds available to encourage faculty members to deliver their courses online.

I’m not sure if my recommendation was adopted in the final version. But I will assure you this:

On a go-forward basis In the future, I will incentivize myself try to cut the clutter from my communication.

Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

6 thoughts on “Resolution for 2012: cut the communication clutter”

  1. I love that word incentivize. I’ve seen more people trip over that one. Besides being buzz-worthy, it’s a tongue twister. Thanks again for the reminder to watch the junk talk. Merry Christmas!

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