This blog is going to be so actionable. So many learnings. Yes, there is going to be a paradigm shift. We’ll touch base in the first paragraph and, going forward from there, will incentivise learnings with a value-added cradle-to-grave end-to-end mission critical solution. The synergies will propel you so far that blue sky thinking won’t be a thing anymore – you’re going to be a space person. An alien floating in a great, engaging, impactful spaceship of corporate joy.
Yes. That paragraph is worthless. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s jargon. It’s dead language. It’s everything that we say we hate but, when we look at our far-too-crisp reflection in the staff toilet mirrors, we have to admit that we too fall prey to spouting nonsense.
It really doesn’t have to be this way. We’re all intelligent people. We all do phenomenal jobs. And we’re all experts in communication. So why do we keep using the same dead language? How do we avoid it?
First of all, we need to know what words and phrases should officially be consigned to the graveyard. Here are three.
Everyone’s excited. All the time. Look at your Twitter feed. They’re excited about all the new things that they’re doing, so excited. They’re so ‘excited’, they don’t even realize that they sound so one-note.
Look, Marmite’s excited
— Marmite (@marmite) April 17, 2015
The National Gallery’s super excited
— National Gallery (@NationalGallery) July 27, 2015
Team GB’s suhr tuhrtally excited
— Team GB (@TeamGB) July 27, 2015
Even Ronseal is excited! Wow!
— Ronseal (@Ronseal) June 10, 2014
Being ‘excited’ is the hyperbolic way of saying, for the hundredth time with eyes more glazed than a Krispy Kreme donut, ‘I’m fine’. Aside from all of the tweets, just think how many press releases journalists get every day from companies ‘excited’ about their newest (and probably not all-too exciting) product update. If anything, the word is taking on a whole new meaning – ‘I have something to sell. Please buy it.’
It’s easy to lean on ‘excited’, but far more compelling to expand on what makes the subject of our communication so exciting. It’s far more compelling to be authentic with the language that we’re using.
Saying that something is ‘exciting’ isn’t sufficient enough cover for something that’s dull.
‘Going forward’ and other business jargon
Hands up if you’ve ever been frustrated with empty jargon. Hands up if you think that marketing talk can actually be fairly demoralizing when you think you’re connecting with someone and they tell you that you just had a really good ‘offline’? Hands up if you want to talk like a real human being?
We don’t, for example, really need to use the phrase ‘going forward’. ‘Going forward’ is currently used to either indicate a vague point in the future (essentially a corporate-friendly way of saying ‘somewhere down the road’), or another way of saying ‘from now on’.
Because of this double-headed meaning the phrase completely lacks sincerity. If you’re sat in a meeting with a client and you use the phrase ‘going forward’ to indicate something that’s going to change on the account…why not say ‘from now on’? It’s a far more genuine way of expressing yourself.
Think about the other phrases that people constantly use around the office – is there another way of saying ‘think outside the box’ that could actively help unlock creative thinking? Is it really that bad to say ‘lessons learned’ instead of ‘learnings’? Does anyone actually use the word ‘synergy’?
Stepping away from jargon helps us all connect on a more human level. And that can only be a good thing.
Think of how many thousands of people around have whispered ‘beetlejuice’ three times only to be disappointed when Michael Keaton doesn’t suddenly show up in their bedroom. To be disappointed that the word ‘beetlejuice’ is really just a load of gobbledygook.
This could be your ‘beetlejuice’ moment for the most overused word in the English language: ‘great’. ‘Beetlejuice’ meant something when Winona Ryder said it in the movie. It had electricity when schoolkids the world over were shouting it in the playground. And now, it means nothing. ‘Great’ probably meant something the first few times you heard it. When your mum told you that you’d done a ‘great’ job tidying your room, if you’d got ‘great’ grades in your exam or had a ‘great’ adventure with your pals in the scrubland at the bottom of your street. Great, great, great.
Say the word a thousand times and all of the electricity is gone. ‘Great’ had already come to the linguistic game at a disadvantage – there are 23 different definitions of the word. It was vague enough even before it had been adapted for every purpose.
If you find yourself typing ‘great’ then take a step back. What are you actually trying to say? Just replacing that word, in a non-hyperbolical way, could really elevate your copy.
Those are just three examples of ‘dead language’. Think about the language that you most frequently use – how much meaning does it really have? Is it affecting your copy? Could you be clearer? Is your copy too predictable? Is it possible to lend it more meaning?
Be a thought leader. A viral disruptor. Improve your real-time engagement. It’s all about quality, not quantity, yeah?
-Will Grove, Creative Copywriter
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October 15, 2020