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Talk like a CEO

Lace your remarks with smart terms

by on
in Office Management,Workplace Communication

Ever notice how CEOs seem to have their own vocabulary? They usually choose their words carefully, selecting the most precise and sophisticated ways to express themselves.

If you want to gain a reputation as an articulate communicator, speak “balance-sheet language.” Incorporate these terms into your everyday vocabulary:

Evidence procedure. Demand that you and your employees apply a sound evidence procedure to get at the truth. Example: “Are we using the right evidence procedure to confirm our hunch?”

Gross margins. Gross margins refer to what’s left of sales income after direct costs. Expressed as a percentage, compare this figure from the most recent quarter to the year-ago quarterly result. Beware: Don’t just dwell on sales numbers. While important, they don’t tell you as much as gross margins, which take into account the costs that accompany those sales.

Strategic inflection point. This term, popular in the high-tech world and now spreading to other industries, describes a point when a big decision must be made. Label a crisis or an upcoming upheaval as a “strategic inflection point,” and you put the event in perspective.

Behavior sets. To get a better handle on your customers, think in terms of their behavior sets—the patterns of why and how they buy and use your product or service. Example: “The concentration of customers whose behavior sets differ from what we projected indicates that we need to revamp our marketing.”

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