I was listening to a radio interview recently in which the guest made a point by recounting a conversation she’s had with her teenage son.  She concluded by saying, “That was T-M-I.”

The host’s next question was, “What do you mean by T-M-I?  That can mean a lot of things.”

Now, the host may have known this shorthand term for “too much information,” but a good interviewer  never assumes that their audience knows.  I’d say most acronyms, other than the most familiar ones like F-Y-I, the CIA or the U-N, should be stated in full the first time, before you start using their abbreviated form.

For example, the E-U has been around quite awhile, but Americans don’t talk about the European Union much. Those letters could stand for different things in different places. If a listener has to mentally pause to think, “What do those letters mean?” for even a moment, they’ve tuned out and you may not get their attention back.

To avoid a communications melt-down, watch out for technical language, unfamiliar abbreviations, slang terms and pop culture references, unless you’re
absolutely certain the audience will immediately “get it.”

Heck, when I was just starting out in TV new, when you said  T-M-I, you were referring to the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant and its near melt-down.  That’s quite a different story from today’s T-M-I.”

Photo credit: Stock.xchng/merlin 1075

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Janet Vasil

Digital Media Strategist, Coach and Consultant at Your Media Moment & Beyond!
Award-winning TV Journalist. Author and Speaker Janet Vasil helps health professionals and knowledge experts use digital media - video, social media, brand journalism and more - to attract new patients, customers, clients, fans and followers. Discover how to increase your visibility, credibility and profitability to become a Go-To Expert and Media-Ready Magnet positioned to "Get SEEN, Get HEARD and Get CLIENTS!"

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