Verbal Vomit

Being exponential, I am always fascinated by how people abuse jargon and terminology to confuse and muddle their messages.

Jargon consists of technical terminology that makes perfect sense to your colleagues and co-workers but is annoying, useless and even confusing to outsiders like your clients, prospects and suspects.

The #1 culprits are politicians who babble forever never saying anything and technical “consultants” who use big words to sound self-important.

Many doctors, engineers, bankers and retailers have great ideas but struggle to make them ‘sell’ simply because their language is saturated with buzz words and jargon.

If you want to close more sales and attract more business then stick to plain English that a typical customer with an average IQ and without a dictionary can easily understand.

What’s interesting is the research involved Dr Daniel Oppenheimer, from New Jersey’s Princeton University, who found that students rated the intelligence of authors who used simple language and easy-to-read fonts as higher than those who over-egged the prose.

Words To Avoid, Buzzwords, Jargon, TLAs, Acronyms

Here is a list of useful tips to help you communicate more effectively…

  • Get clear on your outcome.What do you want the other person to do as a result of your email, letter or discussion? Clarity means making it easy for them to do what you want them to.
  • Communicate your thoughts in simple, digestive ways. Put your thoughts forward using simple and clear language, ideally in short sentences while avoiding the use of buzzwords and clichés.
  • Focus on your listener.Focus on what the listener needs to hear to buy your idea or get on your side.

Like seriously, The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion like has released its annual list of like the most annoying words of 2011 after conducting a public survey. Whatever.

Avoid annoying words and phrases like:

  • Actionable
  • Ball park figure
  • Best of breed
  • Dynamic
  • Empowerment
  • Experience
  • High-end
  • Integrated
  • Unique
  • Solutions
  • Incentivising
  • Passionate
  • Customer-focused/facing
  • Strategic
  • Integrity
  • Mindshare
  • Outside the box
  • Revolutionary
  • State of the art
  • Synergy
  • Quality
  • Service
  • Upscale
  • Value-add
  • Whatever
  • World-class
  • Innovative
  • Leading
  • We guarantee complete satisfaction.
  • We follow the highest standards
  • Well, at the end of the day…
  • LOL (laugh out laud) or OMG (oh my god)
  • To be perfectly honest

Click on the hyperlinks below to access various lists of words you want to avoid:





Daniel Lizurek of Fast Profits also has a list of words to avoid on his copywriting blog.

Want a sample of verbal vomit? Try the Online Buzzword Generator!

Here’s a sample:

I am an energetic self starter with a deep respect for engaging resources and getting deep buy-in. I’m always interested in being a key player and helping you gain synergistic value on your mission-critical project. It’s important to think outside of the box, shift paradigms and push the envelope when bringing user-centric change to an organization. When I’m involved it’s about the value-add and creating a win-win proposition. In this economic climate you have to right size but remain scalable and always deliver service that is world class.

In conclusion, if you can’t describe your own products in 30 seconds or less without resorting to clichés or buzzwords you’re losing sales and market share.

Bookmark this list of most annoying words and
keep it handy the next time you sit down
to write a sales letter, email or presentation.

1 Response to “Verbal Vomit”

  • As a technical person i have foudn that I can sometimes have the same problem with overuse of technical words and TLAs (is that Two Letter Acronym or Three Letter Acronymn?).

    So this is good advice fom several perspectives. People also feel more confident when you explain it in terms that make sense and can be understood by everyone.

    As an example, we are designing some new metering products for a company that sells plumbing products. I had to explain to them why networking cables need to be terminated properly if they wanted them to work correctly (or even at all). The analogy I was able to use was Water Hammer. Terminating a communications cable correctly is like water hammer, with the electrical pulses rushing up and down the cable and interferring with everything just like water rushes up and down a pipe when you turn the tap off too quickly and you don’t have any damping or anti-hammer devices installed. There are only 2 solutions, turn off the taps slowly and carefully or use an anti-hammer device. Networking is the same, go really slow or put in terminators (the equivalent of anti-hammer devices).

    Of course it helps that cables look like pipes. I can almost imagine the plumbers thinking of the electronics like water flowing through the cables. And from one perspective, they would be right. But wave-particle duality is beyond the scope of this reply.

    Ray Keefe
    Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd
    Casey Business of the Year 2010
    Industrial Electronics Future Award Winner 2011
    Award Winning Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development

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