Down With Corporate Jargon! Use Real Words

Posted July 1, 2013 by Ellen Hunter Gans in On the Ladder

You have all been in meetings where things devolve into buzzspeak:

You know, going forward, net-net when we look at things apples to apples at the end of the day when we’re flying at 30,000 feet and collaborating on value-added, dovetailed synergy, someone moved my cheese.


I make my living as a writer. Words are my lifeblood. I do a lot of corporate writing, so you’d think that I — of all people — would be susceptible to the buzzspeak trap.

Truth: I avoid it it like the plague.

This is my plea to you: use real words.

Say what you mean. Be clear. Be precise. Be concise. This applies to spoken and written language.

I will be the first to admit that I love super-descriptive, even esoteric language. I think language is beautiful. However, there’s a time and a place for it. Fancy words don’t automatically make you sound smarter. Similarly, buzzspeak doesn’t make you sound like a smarter businesswoman.

Don’t say: “I’ll take this under advisement and touch base after I assess my bandwidth” when what you really mean is: “I’m on it.”

You may feel like you’re the only person in your company speaking like a human being. What if you were the only person in your company who actually made sense?

People might find it…refreshing.

Gandhi said that you have to be the change you want to see in the world. I want to see the word “synergy” die like a limping squirrel on the freeway.

There. I said it.

About the Author

Ellen Hunter Gans

Ellen Hunter Gans is a freelance writer and communications strategist. She's also a marathon runner, an Ironman triathlete, a wildly untalented cross-country skier, a newly minted Crossfit junkie, a yoga devotee, a wannabe culinary genius, a voracious reader, a grammar snob, a world traveler, an outdoorswoman, an oenophile, a mediocre gardener, and a secret fan of awful television. Her blog is at, and her business website is at