It doesn’t take much blue-sky thinking to innovate robust holistic practices
Welcome to the world of the office, where constants in every workplace up and down the country include watercooler chit-chat, discussing the weather and the awkwardly discreet shuffling of a ‘surprise’ birthday card around the desks.
Oh, and superfluous usage of highfalutin lexicon – otherwise known as ‘jargon’.
Sometimes, you might argue, these things are unavoidable. Working in a certain sector naturally results in a shared vocabulary. But the problems start when this vocabulary starts sneaking its way into your content.
Perhaps one of the most egregious examples of workplace jargon is the phrase: “going forward, we need a plan of action.”
Never has an eight-word sentence been so utterly pointless. Unless you have a time machine, you cannot plan for anything other than the future, so the phrase ‘going forward’ is peak corporate speak.
Meanwhile, it is impossible to create anything other than a plan ‘of action’. By its very definition, a plan is something that will be carried out – even sleeping is an activity. Likewise the pointless use of ‘ongoing’.
Check your content (or any marketing output) carefully. Have you referenced an ‘ongoing plan of action’? Because if so, you’ve just wasted 75% of your four-word phrase.
Why it actually does matter
The jargon situation is rife in all trades – from accountancy to retail to technology.
And regrettably, the world of marketing has mastered the thesaurus with even the most mundane subjects being brought to life. Many are effectively being turned into works of fiction of which CS Lewis would be proud.
But beneath the humour, there is a very serious point. Does jargon exclude people from engagement? And the answer is, quite simply, yes.
There is a sense that jargon can be deliberately or accidentally used to add a false air of authority.
If that sounds pointless, that’s because it is. Introducing that into your content can have the effect of tricking the audience into unnecessary products or services. It can also create the feeling of a hierarchy or sense of exclusion – exactly the opposite of what good content marketing is all about.
Ditch the double Dutch and the workplace – and the content produced there – immediately becomes a much more straightforward environment.
The other elephant in the room is the acronym.
Previously a domain reserved for organisation or company names, it has spread rapidly since the introduction of web-based text services, such as Messenger.
But we’re not talking about millennials using brb or g2g, certain abbreviations have become established in written office culture such as EOP (end of play) or KPI (key performance indicators).
For content, it’s about judging your audience. How well versed are they in these acronyms? Are they truly industry-standard? If in doubt, avoid. (Or at least spell them out the first time.)
Either way, don’t go overboard. More than two or three in a 600-word article and you’ll sound like you’re playing buzzword bingo.