Magazine article Risk Management

Death to Buzzwords

Magazine article Risk Management

Death to Buzzwords

Article excerpt

When I first started at Risk Management, my editor in chief had a running list posted on his office wall ofwords and phrases that we were forbidden to use in the publication. These weren't expletives like George Carlin's infamous seven dirty words, but rather the buzzwords and jargon that seemed to pop up all too often in articles submitted for review. Terms like "synergy," "outside the box," and "thought leader" all made the list because they were either overused, unnecessarily elaborate or just simply annoying.

The idea behind the ban was that we were tired of seeing prose that was so desperate to sound significant that it ended up saying nothing. Sure, we could take this discussion offline and circle back when you have the bandwidth to interface about the action items for disruptive innovations that will shift the paradigm, but wouldn't it be easier if we just talked about new product development at some point?

The Creative Group, a staffing agency for marketing and creative professionals, recently asked 400 advertising and marketing executives to list the most overused and annoying buzzwords. The responses covered a lot of the usual suspects that made the office wall like "synergy" and "out of the box," as well as the equally noxious "out ofpocket," "leverage" and "ideation." They also mentioned trite sayings like "take it to the next level" and "it is what it is." Even relatively harmless words like "amazing" and "innovative" made the list, likely because these adjectives have been used so frequently that they have lost all meaning. After all, if everything is amazing, then logically nothing is really amazing. I guess it is what it is.

Even some of history's greatest writers have cautioned against the use of excessively flowery language. Thomas Jefferson once said, "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. …

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