Ah, corporate speak. Easy fodder for jokes and complaints. An obvious mark of bloated posturing and a surefire remedy for insomnia. But corporate speak has an uncanny way of slithering into a message if even the most sincere writer isn’t vigilant. And, we have to admit that corporate speak is so common because it’s both convenient and habit forming.
Many words and phrases that could now be labeled as corporate speak began as clever ways to communicate complex ideas, but overuse has rendered them vague and pretentious, causing more distraction than clarification. Probably most of us have fallen into its gilded trap at some point, especially when we’re trying to sound professional or knowledgeable but secretly lack the confidence to do so in our own words.The Internet offers many lists of words and phrases to avoid. I’m adding a few more to this dictionary of shame:
- Value added
Usage: Value-added service, features, etc.
You can expect (describe product, service)
Our customers experience (describe specific benefits)
Usage: We provide robust data.
Our data covers dozens of parameters…(Get specific.)
- Best practices
Usage: Our experts use best practices for optimal results.
Our experts use methods that have proven effective.
Our technology has resulted in (list facts, statistics, etc.)
- Baked in
Usage: Our program includes these baked in features…
Our program includes….
You will have access to….(Once again, get specific)
- Disruptive innovation
Usage: We embrace disruptive innovation, which will mark the future success of our company.
We will develop products and services to meet future needs.
Our company is adapting to the new demands of our customers.
- The ask
Usage: Our team will work diligently to fulfill the ask.
Our team will work diligently to deliver the final product.
Our team will work diligently to meet our customers’ demands.
Usage: Wellness incentives are a win-win for both employers and their employees.
Wellness incentives benefit both employers and their employees.
- Value story
Usage: Customers become interested in our services after hearing our compelling value story.
Customers become interested in our services after hearing about our track record of award-winning products and forward-thinking technology (or something else that applies to your organization).
You’ve probably noticed that the call for specificity is a recurring theme in this article. Real world details communicate more clearly than generalities. For instance, you might assume everyone knows what is meant by a term like “value added,” when many might only have a vague notion of this overused phrase. Clear up any possible confusion by taking the time to be specific. This will make it more likely that your audience will understand exactly what you’re trying to say. And they might even enjoying reading it.