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A Guide to Business, Tech, and Agency Jargon (An Ode to Authentic Speech)

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If you’re reading this, then you’ve definitely had a “hard stop,” needed to “circle back” later at some point, ruminated on whether it will “scale,” or pondered how to “leverage” the “laddering up” of a project. 


Isn’t communication and content supposed to be clear, direct, and authentic? We think so.

Then why does meaning-masking corporate jargon have such a hold on everybody? We literally (yup, we know) can’t get enough of the comedy that is unknowingly unleashed with each utterance.

If you’re reading this then you’ve definitely had a “hard stop,” needed to “circle back” later at some point, ruminated on whether it will “scale” and pondered how to “leverage” the “laddering up” of a project (!). Ugh.

Jargon is hi-larious but it also hides meaning and leaves what really needs to be said, quite unsaid.  What are we all hiding?

Our hashtag? #JargonConfessional

With that in mind, we took a poll of our colleagues, friends, and the jargon-obsessed, and the response overwhelmed us. Apparently, we’re all secretly stewing over a vague corporate phrase: 

Poll Results: Our “favorite” corporate, agency, and tech jargon-ese

At the end of the day / When all is said and done.

If only it were actually the end of the day when we hear these interchangeable beauts. “All we want is wine at the end of the day,” one of our respondents said, reading our minds completely.

Bubble up.

As in, “either way, let’s see what bubbles up.” Is someone taking a bath here? We think this might mean an idea/problem that had been suppressed, now finally seeing the light of day.

giphy (9)

Leverage.

Can we leverage no longer using the word leverage to gain some clarity going forward? (And while were at it, stop using it as a verb?) 

Laddering Up.

Does this mean we’re fighting a fire on the 3rd floor?

Let’s put this thing in the parking lot.

This was one was new to us. So good.

And from our editor/copywriter friends out there;

Topline message.

 As in, “that doesn’t align with our top-line messaging.”


Required reading break;

Dearest jargonists, please read,  Several Short Sentences About Writing by New York Times editorial board member Verlyn Klinkenborg ASAP. Klinkenborg advocates for the power of only using crystal clear, healthy sentences. In the introduction he writes: 

“For some reason, we seem to believe most strongly in the stuff that gets into our heads without our knowing or remembering how it got there. What we think we know about writing sounds plausible. It confirms our generally false ideas about creativity and genius. But none of this means it’s true.”

Simple = powerful.


Now back to our regularly scheduled hilarity.

That’s a great solve.

Thanks! (We think?)

Moved the needle.

Hey, Mr. DJ!

Agency of record/AOR.

You and about 7 others. Lol.

Guardrails.

On our favorite roller coaster maybe…

Must we say, “Omnichannel?”

Scales So Hard.

Bro-preneurship at its very finest.

Elegant hierarchies.

A juicy tech anti-bon mot.

Dimensionalize.

Paging Arthur C. Clarke. We think this means to be intergalactically effective across a broad spectrum or something.

Champion. How about you champion this? Ok, sure, all the way to the Finals.

Deep dive / heads down.

Also known as spending some actual time thinking about something important as opposed to merely skimming (wading?). I’m so guilty of saying this.

…..And The Palme d’Or goes to…

The Grand Prize for long form jargon goes to our good friend in corporate consulting (where dense corp-speak is oxygen), and we quote: 

“I hope you are prepared to synthesize the inputs and bucket them appropriately into 2-3 pillars so it’s clear to everyone what the key learnings are. You can take a top-down or bottoms-up approach to integrating the high-level messaging into a deck. Also, be sure to time-box the analysis so you have a few minutes to hone in on the key takeaways.  Before you dig any deeper, let’s take a step back and discuss this approach. What might be best is if we both go heads down for about an hour on the content and then reconnect to align on guiding principles before mapping out our storyboard. The key is to develop a robust set of metrics that have the analytical rigor to define how the SOP (standard operating procedure) should be executed.”

Speechless.

That was positively Shakespearean. Act 1 Scene 1, First Folio! Minds = blown.

Jargonism In Closing (a.k.a. Circling Back)

Maybe we’re all just really tribal, and jargon is a bonding thing. Admit it, we all blurt out these comedic morsels with impunity.

What if we masked meaning of all of the content we created?

The bigger question is: “Why does this amuse and intrigue us so much?” We’re not sure, but it’s good for at least 2-3 delighted team chortles per day. (File under: overheard.)

giphy (10)

(us, everday)

This last bit may be purely anecdotal, but jargon seems to be a predominantly male endeavor (we are that insecure, so this makes total sense).

Do you have any gems you can share?

Pleaassse get in touch with your favorites so we can add to this Rosetta stone of faux-speak.

By Jed Wexler, CEO @818Agency

Featured Photo: @Unsplash


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