Lose the Gobbledygook

I can’t stand business jargon.

I don’t like writing it, I don’t like reading or hearing it, but it has become standard practice in today’s business world.

It’s in presentations, e-mails, websites and people use it all the time to explain their business, products or services. It’s like a special language that professionals speak to each other, yet no one knows what the other is talking about because the terms are so ambiguous.

In The Goggledygook Manifesto, author David Meerman Scott explores the overuse of ridiculous business terms and jargon and how to stop using them.

You should avoid jargon-laden phrases that are over-used in your industry…The worst gobbledygook offenders seem to be business-to-business technology companies. For some reason, marketing people at technology companies have a particularly tough time explaining how products solve customers problems. Because these writers don’t understand how their products solve customer problems, or are too lazy to write for buyers, they cover by explaining nuances of how the product words and pepper this blather with industry jargon that sounds vaguely impressive. What ends up in marketing materials and news releases is a bunch of talk about “industry-leading” solutions that purport to help companies “streamline business process,” “achieve business objectives,” or “conserve organizational resources.”

Although Scott specifically calls out marketing professionals in technology, I see this behavior across various roles and industries. Jargon is a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about what you want to say to influence and inform others.

Another major drawback of using gobbledygook is it doesn’t make a company stand out, so they end up sounding like everyone else. This is ironic considering professionals routinely use jargon to explain why they’re different or the best with terms like ‘world-class,’ ‘groundbreaking’ or ‘cutting-edge.’

In an effort to lose the jargon, here’s what I purpose:

The next time you’re speaking to an existing or potential client, collaborating with coworkers or developing an e-mail, don’t use industry jargon. Instead, use raw terms that are clear and actually mean something to your audience. Although you may not be able to change your company’s resources that are littered with jargon, just start using raw terms in your day-to-day interactions.

I think you’ll find people will actually listen and understand you better, leading to more productive conversations and potentially more success. The effectiveness of your targeted communication may be the spark that influences your entire organization to lose the gobbledygook.

Are you guilty of using business jargon? 

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