The Trap of Corporate Speak AKA Gibberish

Corporate Communication: Stop talking and say something

Most Corporate Communication falls in the category of a funny thing called ‘corporate speak.’ It’s plastered all over their websites, mission statements, business plans and monthly reports. This is a form of Corporate communication that many speak/write but no one understands. It accomplishes several silly things big corporate types seem to need a lot…

  1. It helps boring minds disguise the fact they have nothing exciting to say by using as many words as possible – same way amateur marketers try to make something boring sound exciting by adding multiple exclamation marks!!!
  2. It helps ‘not so smart (or confident) managers and consultants seem temporarily intelligent by using long and complicated words to say stupid things.
  3. It helps lazy and disinterested corporate marketers avoid real talk by creating psychological distance with formality.
  4. It helps highly paid but confused minds avoid having to be clear about where they stand, how they think and what they’re really saying.

How can you tell when someone is using corporate speak? When they start using words and phrases no real human being uses in real life. They say things that would sound stupid if you tried to say in person to a human

Want an example? Here’s three. (WARNING: Read, But DO NOT Try To Understand!)

  1. We here at Bizsetup Group have proven we know that it is better to orchestrate interactively than to integrate holistically.
  2. Max Financial Systems is the industry leader of revolutionary, social-network-based proactive supply-chains.
  3. Soutter Marketing Solutions has revamped the theory of front-end customer-defined, distributed, customer-directed, visionary CAD

It sounds smart, but it’s stupid. It’s bad communication and bad marketing. Just don’t do it.

Corporate Communication is about establishing a common understanding with your audience. Always make that your priority. Learn the rule of 14.

“If the average 14 year old can’t understand it, start again”.

Impress people with the excellence of your thinking, the power of your ideas and the conviction of your beliefs… not the vocabulary of your delivery – especially when it’s missed placed.

By the way – Next time you’re in church… listen out for ‘Christianese’

Like the way some preachers prophesy – as though God can’t speak modern English – “Thus says the Lord, let not thine hand touch evil” instead of “Hey – God says don’t do it!” Nothing wrong with it… if it works – just beware in business. Christians are a lot more accustomed to religious speak than your market is to corporate speak.

10 Replies to “The Trap of Corporate Speak AKA Gibberish”

  1. This is probably the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time Max, and how true. I use corporate speak all the time and when i go over it after a while i cannot recall what i was talking about let alone explain it to anyone else.

    The problem is when you say things simply and directly, your boss feels like you are not as intelligent because he is also used to seeing big and impressive words he does not understand!

  2. Finally someone thinks like me, keep it real and simple. Its not only big corporates, even those who are trying to start businesses have to try and live up to that standard, you take 20 marketing books and you try so hard to put in the “proper” lingo, its just insane. Thanks Max.

  3. I agree with you max, communication is about creating common understanding. Your article reminded me of what I had been thinking of lately – why are legal documents written in such a way that makes it difficult to interpret? A lease agreement, for example, is supposed to serve as communication between parties involved but at times it creates confusion between both parties.

  4. @Moses, yup me too mate. I used to do those all the time> fortunately i’ve changed my stripes now. It can be really difficult for consultants to make these sort of changes but once you become focused on results, not applause…you’re half way there.

    @ Gloria. Thank you. I appreciate you reading…come again!

    @Rachel – 100% true! In fact this is just one of many mistakes small businesses make by trying to copy big companies. It leads to frustration and ends in failure.

    @ Richard – For sure mate. It’s a problem in many industries, affecting a good many businesses and their marketing and their processes. Maybe in time people will start to wake up about it. In the mean time it represents yet another opportunity for smart entrepreneurs who actually care that communication communicates!

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