plainly speaking


Today I had a meeting with one of our digital camcorder vendors where I reviewed some elements of our annual marketing plan and how they played a part within the activities.  During the meeting I also pitched them on the idea of partnering with us on a word-of-mouth driven marketing campaign.  (Side note: I’m pretty passionate about the potential of word-of-mouth marketing, but I’m not going to get into that in this post.)

While walking the group through the PowerPoint deck, I was hitting on some of the usual corporate marketing buzzwords.  Integration.  Synchronization.  Authenticity.  Big bets.  Value targeting.  (Now granted, some jargon is worse than others.  I mean, it’s not like I played the “synergy” card or anything like that.)  At a certain point, I caught myself in the moment and realized how I sounded.  I literally had to consciously stop myself from using the phrase “low hanging fruit.”

During the meeting and afterwards, I started thinking about how this type of corporate jargon gets in the way of having real conversations.  I’ve had several discussions with coworkers about the importance of language in our jobs, because words have meaning. And words are easily misunderstood or misconstrued.   And when we use this kind of jargon,  it masks our true meaning and can be a  hindrance to good, honest dialog.

The ironic thing is that I hate corporate language and buzzwords.  I disliked them when I was getting my MBA, and I still don’t like it now.  But I think you need to know how or when to speak and use the language.  It’s about time and place.

However, there’s no doubt that it has rubbed off on me.  My written communications at work are way more formal than I’d like.  I just slip into that mode.  Even my wife gives me grief as she likes to tell me that I sometimes sound like a corporate drone.

So it dawned on me today during my presentation, as I strained against spitting out that phrase, that I need to do a better job of speaking like a human again.

(photo courtesy of Creative Commons license: Michael Daines.)


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