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Real Words that Work

By Patricia Davies, President, Patricia Davies Communications
 
Searching for the mysterious VC 
 
I was surprised to read this sentence in a recent Harvard Business Review Management Tip of the Day: “Early-stage entrepreneurs often dread the question, ‘How’s it going.’ Whether it’s a potential partner, a VC, or even just a friend asking, you want to communicate that things are going well – but you don’t want to be vague or rattle off a memorized litany of achievements.”
 
I stopped cold at VC, before I could even ponder rattling off my litany of achievements. What is a VC? My first thought was vacuum cleaner, but that made no sense. All the Internet slang dictionary could tell me was Voice Chat. That didn’t follow, either. Since I have had my own business for 25 years, I guess I qualify as an entrepreneur, late-stage, and clients always matter, so VC could stand for Valued Client? Finally, when a colleague suggested Venture Capitalist, I felt a jolt of recognition: Yes, I’ll bet that’s it. Although, frankly, I couldn’t tell you the rest of the tip because the adventure of figuring out VC had taken the edge off my interest. 
 
Guideline: 
The Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Better Business Writing (another arm of the same revered publisher and an excellent reference) includes acronyms in the section it calls “Avoiding the quirks that turn readers off.” To quote, “Readers find acronyms tiresome, especially ones they’re not familiar with. So use them judiciously.” I could say something snide about heeding and advice, but late-stage entrepreneurs don’t sink to sarcasm. 
 
Fix:
The standard practice when shortening a term into an acronym is Venture Capitalist (VC) on first reference, and VC thereafter. Or avoid the acronym entirely and just call this source of income a financial backer.    
 
GPS (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling) Tips 
We all have sticking points about the language, a particular mistake in usage that drives us nuts. Reader Nick Reynolds in Richfield MN wrote to us about the misuse of “try and.” 
 
“You don’t ‘try and’ anything; you ‘try to’ . . . something or other,” he writes. Nick is correct. Although “try and” is common in the spoken language, the correct construction in writing is “try to,” as in “Try to avoid sentences that break this rule.” 
 
Patricia Davies www.patriciadavies.com is an award-winning writer and editor, an Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) with IIBA®, and a regular panelist on the IIBA “Being a BA: Effective Communication” Webinar. Do you have a writing question? Please email to IIBAnewsletter@IIBA.org and we’ll try to address it in a future column or Webinar.