Stop the Madness of Corporate Gobbledy Gook

We’ve all been victims of bad corporate communications.  If you’ve received an email from the CEO, a letter from department head on the company intranet, read a press release or any more of a dozen corporate communications avenues, you’ve been hit by the gobbledy gook that passes for communications.

Chances are you’ve had a “paradigm shift” that came from “sharing best practices” that were “necessary to fully utilize our customer interface” to “take advantage of our competitive advantage.”

PR Daily gives a rundown of some actual sentences in press releases and translates, I mean, rewrites them into real language that people can understand.

Here are five ways we can stop the madness:

  1. Stop writing things by committee.  I know everyone wants to give their opinion, especially if it’s an important corporate communication like an annual report or layoff notice.  But that doesn’t mean everyone gets to rewrite it.
  2. Stop covering up.  Oftentimes these types of abominations come from trying to cover up that you don’t really have anything to say or trying to make it sound like you’re making progress when you really aren’t.
  3. Stop trying to sound important.  A strange thing happens when we start writing corporate communications: we lose our minds. We start spewing fancy words that don’t mean anything and string them together like a tangled ball of Christmas lights, which we throw at our reader and expect them to be delighted to spend time untangling.
  4. Stop going around the barn to get to the house. The best communications are concise and to the point.  Get to the point and move on.  People will appreciate your respect for their time not spend digging through your email to figure out what the point is.
  5. Stop ignoring your communications folks.  Corporate communications professionals are paid to make executives sound good.  Stop beating them down so they acquiesce to jargon.  Trust them when they advise you to keep it simple and straightforward.

I can’t resist ending with one of the best examples, ever. At the top of the Hall of Shame is this horribly convoluted email from Microsoft informing employees that thousands are about to be laid off (anyway, I think that’s what it’s about), with delightful commentary by New Yorker Magazine.  This is corporate speak at its pinnacle.