At 4:40 pm on Thanksgiving, as I was explaining how I’d found synergy between two family recipes to optimize the juiciness of the turkey, I realized that marketing speak had finally sabotaged my vocabulary.
“What are you talking about?” my cousin asked. She was looking at me like I was an alien from a planet where everyone was born with four tentacles and two MBAs.
This realization was particularly discouraging for me. Of the hundreds of articles I’ve written for this blog, the most popular were a series roasting marketing buzzwords. I’d been a crusader against them! But buzzwords are like terrifying, fleece-wearing ghosts that haunt your conference room. No matter how much you run and hide, they get everyone eventually.
Shook, I grabbed my third glass of white wine and snuck off to my grandma’s den to consult my online therapist, Dr. Draper. For legal purposes, I should point out that Dr. Draper is not a real doctor, but rather an Australian copywriter at Wellmark Health who makes fun of business jargon better than anyone on earth. On this day, I was thankful to discover his incredible chart that points out how classic taglines would be pitched today with modern corporate speak.
Update: Dr. Draper apparently is also a real doctor (see this thread). Who worked mostly in psychiatry. This is one of the best corrections I’ve ever had to issue.
When I got back to work, I pasted this chart over my desk as a reminder. Business jargon is incredibly easy to adopt; it’s the tribal language of officeland. And there’s nothing wrong with saying you want to TB on a 360-degree review of Q3’s ROE in the safe space of your own conference room. But if you’re not careful, corporate buzzspeak will creep into all your external communications—your videos, blog posts, tweets, press releases, and website copy. Heck, it might even infiltrate the footer. And in the process, you’ll completely lose all ability to communicate coherently with 97 percent of the population. (If you wanted to do that, you’d have gone into politics!)
So for the last five weeks of the year, let’s take a bold stand and hunt out buzzwords like they’re top-shelf liquor at the company holiday party. (Let’s also keep it together at the holiday party.) No one in your next meeting may notice, but the people you’re trying to reach sure will.