Skip to content

Ban Acronyms From Holiday Parties

I attended a holiday event yesterday where everyone was given a preprinted nametag. Every tag included the person's name and association (how they belonged). Every association was abbreviated.

As a newcomer to the group, I had no idea what the very short abbreviations stood for. At first, I didn't even recognize what the abbreviation on my own nametag stood for! This was not a party game–it was business shorthand.

If you are planning your organization's holiday party, ban acronyms and abbreviations from your nametags, programs, introductions, and other forms of communication. Those shorthand references may be great for longtimers and insiders, but people who are guests or new to your company will be left out. Yes, asking what an acronym stands for can be a conversation starter, but the question immediately labels the questioner as an outsider.

Happy holiday partying. Write responsibly!

Syntax Training

P.S. If "Write responsibly" made no sense to you, it was a play on "Drink responsibly," a slogan that is common in the United States.

Posted by Avatar photo
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.