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Buzzword Bingo

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Do your employees seem to be paying more attention lately to what you are saying in meetings? Are announcements from top management getting more careful scrutiny than they used to?

The good news is you may have, overnight, become a more dynamic speaker and your employees may have awakened to your greatness. The bad news is they are probably just playing "buzzword bingo". But the really good news is that you can use this latest business game to your advantage.

Buzzword Bingo
The game is played like regular bingo except that instead of numbers in the squares there are random business buzzwords: paradigm; bottom line; optimization; Total Quality Management; reengineering; out of the box; etc.

Before the speech is made or the announcement is published, the employees print up buzzword bingo cards. As each buzzword is use in the speech (or meeting) they check off that square. Up, down or diagonal wins, just as in regular bingo. And since it would be too obvious to shout "BINGO", the winner coughs discretely to signal his or her victory.

    Here are some interesting Internet sites about buzzword bingo:
  • Karl Geiger's Buzzword Bingo site generates bingo cards with the business buzzwords randomly distributed. His site also includes a nice history of the game's birth and rebirth.
  • Nik and Timbob’s Buzzword Bingo site generates bingo cards with the business buzzwords. Another page on their site does the same treatment to food.

Winning at Buzzword Bingo
So how do you take this reborn game fad and turn it to your advantage? How can buzzword bingo make you a better manager? By helping you communicate better with your employees, that's how.

Don't hide your message behind the ambiguity of buzzwords. (I defy you to define "paradigm" without looking it up.) Say what you want to say in plain, direct English (or in whatever language your company conducts business).

Take your next speech, email, or policy statement. Generate a buzzword bingo card from one of the sites in the list above. Review your message against the buzzword list. How quickly would someone have "won"?

Now go back and edit that speech, etc. and take out the buzzwords. Replace them with direct messages. You’ll be surprized at how quickly your people do start paying attention to what you are saying - for the sake of the message, not to try to "bingo".

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