Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Meaningless Words and Blah Blah Text: Three Buzzwords to Avoid

“”When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’” L. Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

As another year comes to a close, folks are taking stock of the year in buzzwords – especially pertaining to business-to-business marketing communications.

It can be fun reading posts about “PR Buzzwords” or “Overused Words in LinkedIn profiles” – but it can be painful, too. 

As a marketing communicator, I’ve written a fair share of content with words like  “Value Add,” Award-Winning,” “Industry-Leading,” “Mission Critical” and “Thought Leader.”

Beware the Blah Blah

Granted, these are useful concepts in PR or marketing communications.

Yet terms like these and others quickly become meaningless and instead of adding “more” they start to mean “less” as so aptly put by Humpty Dumpty in the quote above.

In fact, they become “blah blah” text, and are best deleted.
The Long and Short of It
Mark Twain once said about an essay or a letter he had written, “I am sorry this is so long. I didn't have time to make it shorter.”
It takes time to write concise and compelling text.  One must first capture the essence of the idea, write an initial draft, go back and reorganize, then return a third or fourth time to “slash and burn” meaningless blah blah that adds no value. 
Top 3 Offenders of 2010
In the spirit of “slash and burn,” here are my suggestions for the top 3 offending blah blah terms of 2010.
  • Transformative – This isn’t a word.  Using the word in a proposal or marketing blurb does not make it so. Exactly what does "transformative" mean anyway?  This is a major blah-blah word. Best avoided 
  • Deep Dive – I hate hearing this term in a meeting when it means, “to explore an issue or subject in-depth. "We should meet to do a deep dive on this issue." What’s the converse – a “shallow dive”? 
  • Going ForwardThis is “filler” and of no value.  It means “looking to the future” and can be deleted anytime you see or hear it, as in the following sentence:  "Going forward, we anticipate earnings improving in core industries, with even better results in the expanding diversified markets."   Simply remove “Going forward…” and the meaning of the sentence is not impacted.

Additional Resources

As for additional reading, here’s a suggestion for going forwardVisit these transformative websites to take a further “deep dive” into the subject:

BuzzWhack - demystifying business jargon & buzzwords - check out the funny warning on the home page! 

The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary - the most complete A-Z "blah blah" resource there is! 

Happy Buzzword-Free New Year!  

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