Including acronyms in a presentation is the best way to ensure death to your presentation and complete boredom from the audience. That’s a bold statement, but it’s the truth nonetheless. For individuals outside an industry, acronyms might mean something different or have no meaning at all, making the audience clueless to what you are discussing.
I was recently coaching a local construction company on a presentation they had been working on for two years. They brought me in for an objective opinion just days before the scheduled presentation. Naturally, I didn’t have time to change much. The presentation team assured me that they were speaking to others inside the field and the acronyms would be understood. I only took that with a grain of salt and questioned each and every one for my understanding (and to double-check them that the audience would understand). We went through this presentation section by section and came across an acronym that was only used inside the company. This acronym would be lost on audience, even though they were in the same field. The presentation team at that point realized why I had been pestering them with questions and they started at minimum stating what the acronyms stood for to be safe.
This is a powerful example because acronyms, even within a single field, can mean different things or can be created within single companies. The presentation would have been an epic failure if the presentation team were to use internal acronyms that went straight over the audience’s heads.
To avoid the death of a presentation, the acronyms cannot be the focus of a presentation. Including acronyms and other industry jargon detracts from the importance of the information. It’s like highlighting the vocabulary word that you don’t understand, acronyms must be removed or at the very least explained. Focus the audiences attention on the whole pie and not the slice.