Journalists tend to be a pompous bunch when it comes to language and ‘corporate speak’. They seldom do anything that entails real responsibility, are often the most scathing when they suspect evasion and artful vaguery in others. Add the fact that journalists never have to deal with the cynicism and venality of other journalists – other than in the office and the bar- and you can see a total lack of understanding of what a senior corporate type is trying to say when s/he stands up to speak. Nothing. So when the CEO of Ford says-
“Going forward, we are focused on aggressively managing short-term challenges and opportunities and we remain committed to delivering our mid-decade plan and serving a growing group of Ford customers.”
He’s really saying ”I’ve told you once, and I don’t want to have to say it again, so can we move on…”
Yes we may wish that he’d be articulate, concrete, jargon free and honest. But real people need scriptwriters to do that don’t they? So I feel some sympathy for the CEO’s quoted in this great article from Lucy Kellaway at FT.com on the usage and abuse of the English language by senior corporate types in 2011- And the winners of 2011’s guff awards are… – FT.com.
But my sympathy doesn’t mean that I don’t think senior people shouldn’t be asked to listen to their own guff from time to time, and this article is a great piece to help. I’m sure it’ll be pinned up in many a PR/Speechwriter and Internal Comms office over the next few days, until it fades, curls, wrinkles and falls down behind the printer, only to be found and binned the next time the office is moved around.
[box type=”info”] Experienced speakers know that abstract, jargon, buzzword and bullshit is great for filling time and filibustering your way out of a difficult question. If you want to inspire though, everything changes.[/box]
See here for a rabid and wrong-headed attack on ‘management speak’ by one of Ms Kellaway’s colleagues after the July 2007 bombings inquest in London last year.