By Robyn Brown

There are certain corporate words that just make my skin crawl. Some are corporate-speak and won’t be found in Webster’s dictionary. Others are used so much they start to lose their original meaning. Here’s my top three:

Targeted as in targeted communications, targeted media list or targeted messaging. I am very guilty of this one. It’s a good example of including unnecessary filler words. Targeted is redundant, as if we’re saying the media list isn’t normally reaching a specific audience. Of course it is! Don’t use that word unless you want people thinking your communication is not always targeted.

Drive as in “we will drive results from our PR campaign.” I laugh when I read this word. Several years ago, I sat in a client brainstorming meeting listening to overwhelming excitement for a campaign based on the word drive.  One participant, representing the branding team, got so enthralled that he suggested a race car theme complete with more language like ‘finish line’ and ‘full throttle.’ We are appealed to the word drive because it connotes focus and speed. If we are going to drive results, we will do it with lots of efficiency. Additionally, the person who uses this word is often putting themselves in the driver’s seat and will lead everyone on the road to results. Be sure you are that person before using the word!

Anything ending in –ize. Let’s be honest here: These are made-up words. In an effort to simplify, use the base word instead.

  • Use instead of utilize
  • Finish or complete instead of finalize
  • Promote instead of publicize
  • Incent instead of incentivize
  • And the list goes on

Finally, we often use extra words to make simple communication sound more intelligent, technical and corporate. And yet, we are only adding to the complexity of our message. I challenge you to carefully review your writing after a first draft and eliminate at least a dozen ‘filler’ words. Your readers will appreciate it.

Dr. Seuss once said “the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

 

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