R.I.P. JARGON: Is corporate lingo and ‘alien speak’ killing off communication with your customers?


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Acronyms: not the word acronym per se, but the use of acronyms in so much marketing and comms copy. LSE is the London School of Economics. It’s also the London Stock Exchange. In other parts of the world it’s god knows what. So don’t alienate your reader (aka (!) your customer or client) by not letting him or her into your secret club. Just spell it out. Don’t even get me started on abbreviations like COP, EOY, YTD, MOM. The amounts of times I’ve had to google what corporate acronyms mean is ludricrous – and FYI, it’s also a bit lazy.

Stakeholders or stakeholder engagement: just say whoever it is that has an interest in the business. The word may sound fancy, but people won’t really know what or who you’re talking about.

End-to-end: Does anyone say this in the real world? Even from the beginning to the end sounds more human. Or from the start to the finish. Or concept to completion. You get my drift.

Going forward: During my time in PR this was bandied about the office and in emails all day, every day. “Going forward . . . we must improve profits / get more clients/ do this x way or that.” It sounds odd to anyone outside your office. What’s wrong with looking ahead? Or in the future? Or next year . . . ?

Think outside the box: this phrase does beg the question, what’s inside the box? And it’s so overused that it doesn’t even sound clever any more. If you tell clients or customers you’re ‘thinking outside the box’ pause to hear a collective sigh. Instead of talking about boxes, actually show them what you’re doing to give them a spectacular, must have, radically different service or product.


So that’s my hit list. But how do you stop yourself, when it’s become second nature to speak – and therefore write – in a jargonistic way. My advice is: write like you’re explaining something to an intelligent 12-year-old. That doesn’t mean dumbing down. Far from it. It means you’re coming up with an intelligent narrative that can be easily understood and digested by anyone and everyone. That means you’re more likely to strike a chord with your audience and engage with them. That’s good for business. All that’s left to say is: BOL and BAL (best of luck and break a leg).


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