Bored of benchmarks? Sick of stakeholders, solutions and drinking the Kool-Aid? Well, you should be, because jargon is no way to express the uniqueness of your business.
In a news story I watched recently, a small business owner proudly touted the value of her cooking program (or maybe it was art?) for children.
“It empowers children to create their own dishes,” she gushed. Since when did normal everyday survival tasks like cooking cease to be just that? Growing instead into egotistical monsters that bleat for praise every time they’re performed?
A Forbes article recently described ‘empowerment’ as the “most condescending transitive verb ever invented.” Amusing articles like these abound, so there’s no excuse for not knowing the worst fluff in your industry’s vocab.
Top on my list, in the education-creative agency-business spheres, are these five seemingly harmless linguistic truncheons.
- Benchmark – Your business benchmark relates to, er, what? Not all benchmarks are necessarily high. Add some context, puh-leeze. Benchmark is also interchangeable with ‘best practice’. Best practice for whom? The industry’s best? Or just all the other copycat hacks out there?
- Stakeholder – Crazy person wielding a weapon-like stick with a point at the end. Is that really who you do business with? Surely you deal with communities, women aged over 30, local councils, senior teachers, shareholders, small businesses or other similarly plausible folk?
- Journey – Creative industry heads love this word. “We want to take brand fans on a jouuuuuurney,” they effuse during the concepting phase. I love journeys, especially through rolling hills and country towns with lots of bakeries. But I’m going to break it to you. No matter how well ordered or even delicious your catalogue or credentials look, flipping through their pages is not a journey.
- Story – All businesses want to tell their story. It’s just a shame they don’t realise that business missions and goals are just that. Missions and goals. Stories have unlikely heroes, dramatic twists, comical interludes and surprise endings. You can find plenty of stories in your customer experience. You just can’t slap the word ‘story’ onto any materials outside your data charts.
- Solution – This one comes in so many shapes and sizes it’s hilarious. Scalable solutions, end-to-end solutions, outcome-orientated solutions and more solutions. Admittedly it’s a handy word. Client problems plus our solutions equals happy ending, right? It’s just that it’s so over-used. So go find a more specific synonym.
For all my rants, many people in your industry will expect you to use jargon. So while I’d love to say you should omit it altogether, the best way to deal with jargon is to halve its use. Here’s an example.
Instead of this: “Going forward, I think we can leverage these options and drill down to the next level for our stakeholders.”
Try this: “I think we can draw on these options to give our clients and partners a better product.”
Read the following articles and lists to start thinking about what redundant fluff to weed out of your company’s messaging. Then go to thesaurus.com to explore other options. It’s fun. Promise!
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_buzzwords