Acronyms are used extensively by writers, speakers, students and anyone who likes to communicate. Businesses, organizations and institutions use them to assist in the retention of a message, concept or name. They are used along with association, rhyming, and alliteration to help people remember things.
Acronyms have been proven as a simple way to help people recall information by breaking it down into manageable bits of data. An acronym, is defined by Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary as, “a word (such as NATO, radar, or snafu) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term.” Some of my favorite acronyms are; Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real, EGO is Edging God Out and when learning musical scales E, G, B, D, and F (Every Good Boy Does Fine).
Acronyms can work to inspire, motivate and improve performance. For example, years ago our sales region wanted to emphasize the value of asking questions. I came up with the acronym ASK, which stood for Acquiring Selling Knowledge. If our reps wanted to be effective they had to gather information by asking probing questions. When you establish the framework you can apply it to various concepts by substituting other words, such as spiritual, significant, etc.
The need and applications for acronyms are all around us. We had a feedback group known as VOICE to give us information on company policies, programs, products and procedures. One day the director of the program was asked if VOICE stood for anything. He replied that it was not an acronym. I walked up to the booth and suggested, Very Often I Change Everything. The director stood there in amazement. He looked back at the word and saw that it worked, for all of the words were there. It captured the purpose of the company changing some of our initiatives based on hearing the voices of our people.
There are organizations that can create acronyms for your organizations. You can search for acronyms at http://www.acronymsearch.com where over 50,000 acronyms are listed and you can even post your company’s acronyms to their database.
Acronyms vary across companies as each organization has their own vocabulary. Therefore, it is important to explain them to ensure you are communicating effectively. I was a part of the pharmaceutical sales organization and STD’s were sexually transmitted diseases. When I spent time in our human resources department, they openly discussed the rise in the number of STD’s which was disconcerting until I realized they were speaking of (short term disabilities).
The secret of a good acronym is to be simple, clear and catchy. In the 1980’s I was training sales reps and noted that several of them were trying to make up information during a sales simulation. I reminded them that their doctors had forgotten more about medicine then they would ever know. I suggested that they could not Make Stuff Up or words to that effect. Years later I found out this concept was the subject of a book of a similar concept.
If the acronym has too many words it may maintain its effectiveness by association rather than attaching each letter with a particular word. For example, the Jupiter trial for a popular cholesterol lowering medicine: Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastin.
When you hear the word you want someone to make a quick association. I speak to organizations about creating a climate where people can safely state what is on their mind. In my book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness; (available at www.OrlandoCeaser.com and http://www.amazon.com) an OASIS is described as, a place where people can be Open And Share Information Safely.
Acronyms are an art. Since I have a knack for acronym development I have been asked on several occasions to help groups in their efforts to create one. I would speak with them and solicit their intent, the word they are trying to develop (if they have one) and the placement of the word in their overall strategy. This information allows me to know what they are trying to achieve and gives me the insight to meet their expectations.
Has Anyone Been Inspired Today is a mantra for HABIT to remind me to help people through positive and encouraging actions. When an expert in a given area or topic is performing their duties it looks effortless. Aga Karve, my spin instructor is such a person. When she is working on the bike she is smiling while class members are groaning under her strenuous workout. One day it struck me that She Makes it Look Easy, SMILE. So we can say Someone Makes It Look Easy as they are smiling and effortlessly performing their work.
Acronyms can be fun. They can build your vocabulary and creativity. When creating acronyms, please remember the following:
- Acronyms can be designed as a memory device
- They are more effective when they are simple, succinct, catchy and linked to the topic in a powerful way
- Be observant and on the lookout for acronyms and do not be surprised when they appear
- Keep track of acronyms in notebooks and computers
When you allow acronyms to incubate in your mind you can develop fascinating associations between the words and concepts you want to remember creatively and assist you in memorization and performance.
Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser