Tag Archives: business

19 Examples of the Worst Jargon of 2014

jargonHere’s a lesson from the first day of the first writing class anyone ever took: Write to express, not to impress.

That should be simple enough to remember. But too often, we churn our way through clichés, jargon and other stale expressions that indicate we’re not interested in expressing ourselves – we’re just moving our lips or striking the keys.

Relying on jargon, acronyms and the like isn’t just annoying and lazy. It’s bad for business because it says: I do not care if you understand.

Jargon, Buzz words, Atlanta, Business, Corporate communications, language, clarity, stop saying these stupid thingsIt’s always good, easy fun to list ridiculous and overused words, non-words, phrases and gibberish that find their way into everyday discourse. Seems like most of it’s in business, doesn’t it? Corporate-speak can really kill English the most.

I’ve put together a list here of some of the Worst Jargon of 2014. I’m including a few examples that aren’t jargon exactly but remain crimes against the language. Thanks to friends and colleagues who contributed.

1. Learnings. An example: “John is back from his conference and will share some of his top learnings with us.”

2. Stakeholdering. I’m not sure, but I think it’s supposed to mean “relationship building,” or something like that.

3. Conceptualize. Have you used the Business Buzzword Generator? Try it now. It’s a hoot.

4. Skilling. This takes the “learning” example to the next depth. “The team will need some skilling on how to use the new processes.”

Mrs. Jones is the lady on Hudson Street... because a noun is a person, place or thing.

Mrs. Jones is the lady on Hudson Street… because a noun is a person, place or thing.

5. Ask. Here’s perhaps the worst, and perhaps most common, example of using a verb as a noun for no reason at all, except that you heard your boss doing it. Example: “When you go to the budget meeting, what will your main ask be?”

6. Choiceful. “When we’re making those decisions, we have to be really choiceful.”… I have no idea why anyone would ever say that, but people do it every day in Corporate America. See also: impactful.

7. Solution – as a verb. I’m not kidding. “We have a real challenge here, but we also know how we’re going to solution that.” Also: “update.”

8. Eventize. From a friend in Hollywood. An example: “We’re eventizing our entertainment slate.” Translation: We are airing this new show and it’s so incredibly hot that it’s going to be a big event, not just a regular TV show.

9. Utilize. Because “use” was out of town?

10. At the end of the day. Unless you’re in “Les Miz,” never.

11. Iconic. We used to call old movie stars “legendary.” Now, somehow, anyone of any note must be referred to as “iconic.” Stop, please.

Uhm... like, totally!

Uhm… like, totally!

12. Uh… and Uhm… Have these replaced “like” and “ya know” in conversation or business meetings and presentations?

13. Obviously – when it’s not obvious at all. If it is obvious, you probably don’t need to say so.

14. Ideate. “We should spend a little more time with the ideation on this…”  (Translation:  We still need to work on this, and some of that work will require creative thought.)

15. Swirl: “Our intent is to minimize the swirl on this one…”  (Translation: How do we keep the fewest number of people involved in this decision?)

16. Swimlanes: “We need to make sure everyone is clear on their swimlane and stays within it.”  (Translation:  Everyone needs to do what they are supposed to do and not spend time doing other people’s stuff.)

17. Hashtag. Use a hashtag, but stop saying it. With air quotes.

18. Mindshare. An editor friend sent that one. I have no idea.

19. Maximizer. Sounds naughty.

And here’s a fun piece with more examples on CNN.com. Oy!

Share your own examples. I wish I could incentivize you…

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How Jackie Onassis and a Hopeful Author Helped Me Find a New Career

jackie onassis, martha stewart, books, editor, doubleday, viking, careers, reinvention, new career, how to find a new career, Chapter 2, Plan B

Jackie Onassis in her book-editor years

One day when Jackie Onassis was a book editor at Doubleday in the 1970s, her assistant came into her office and said, “Mrs. Onassis, your next appointment is here.”

Jackie slowly looked up and breathily asked, “And what does this one want to write a book about?”

“She wants to educate people about how to host dinner parties, make nice invitations, entertain properly in the home – that kind of thing,” the assistant said.

Jackie didn’t blink. “But doesn’t everyone already know how to do that?” she said, as the assistant brought in … Martha Stewart.

Cute story, right?

Well, it helped change my life a few years ago, when I realized I needed a Plan B, like the folks I blogged about Monday.

I had decided to leave the newspaper industry. It was showing signs of the disaster that soon followed and, somehow, I saw the “iceberg dead ahead” a bit before many of my colleagues and started looking for a life raft (way too much of a scramble to be called Plan B).

But when I began looking for another way to make a living, I was overwhelmed by bizspeak about “skill sets” and “project management” and “holistically synergizing teams and assets” — or whatever.

One night with a friend, I was complaining – whining, maybe – that my skills as a writer, editor and manager were not transferable outside of a newsroom.

“You think just because you can write well that everybody can write well,” he said. “Is that what all you newspaper people think – that you don’t know how to do anything special? Every day, you lead meetings and send out reporters to cover the news, and then you make a hundred business decisions about the product your company sells.”

Martha Stewart, jackie onassis, books, new career, reinvention, chapter 2, plan b, how to jump-start your career

Hey, girl.

That’s when my friend smiled and shook his head and told me the story about Jackie and Martha.

And then I understood. Maybe my skills and experience were, indeed, special. Maybe I could be of use to a different kind of organization.

Armed with this fresh perspective, I continued networking and eventually found a new place to work in corporate communications, where I felt appreciated and was nurtured in my transition into the business world, so different from the frat-house culture of newsrooms.

I tell that story a lot when I hear people with career troubles in any industry. Hang in there. Forget the nonsense you were told. Not everybody knows how to do what you do.

Thanks, Jackie. And Martha.


 

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When Speaking, Remember the Power of the Pause

Next time you have to talk in front of a group or in a one-on-one presentation, remember this advice: Hold on a bit.

Jorge Barria, Speakeasy, storytelling, corporate communications, Atlanta, Buckhead, executive speeches, how to teach executives to speak, training, leadership, leaders, when to pause

Jorge Barria of Speakeasy

“Pausing is one of the best choices you can make in a speaking situation,” says Jorge Barria of Speakeasy, a Buckhead communications consultancy that helps executives and others improve their storytelling skills.

“It allows you to inhale and exhale to relax, and it gives you time to think, so it reduces your fear that your mind is going to go blank. The pause also helps you be a more effective speaker because it helps you project authority, energy and audience awareness.”

I enjoyed the expertise of Barria and the Speakeasy team recently. The teachings are invaluable to me. Although I’m comfortable writing stories about other people, I’m less confident talking about myself. In particular, I sometimes struggle to find the right balance between humility and appropriate self-promotion. Go too far one way and risk appearing arrogant — too far the other way and I might seem dispassionate.

Barria likens the pause to a Swiss Army knife because of its multitude of uses. It lets your audience absorb your content. And in storytelling, in particular, it can help… build… anticipation.

Anticipation, yes, and … payoff.


 

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