In 2015, I was invited along to host the inaugral Manchester PA of the year awards, recognising the contributions this important community make to the running of all businesses.
When planning the evening, to make things fun, the audience played along with me in a game of ‘management speak bingo’. During the awards we spattered about fifty ‘management speak’ words into the script with the audience marking them off on a bingo card. The winner then shouting ‘house’ and enjoying some Champagne as a result.
It made for a fun evening and a lot of laughter combined with some cringing for some of the managers in the room (myself included). It was a bit of fun but also an important reminder to keep things simple when communicating.
I’m sure you’ve seen and heard plenty of examples of Corporate statements, company presentations or press releases which seem to have been pushed through the ‘management speak’ amplifier, sprinkling excessive phrases into them to please adoring audiences (or not). You know the ones I mean – synthesise, paradigm, leverage etc etc.
A Recent Cracking Example
Linkedin CEO – Jeff Weiner – made this announcement supporting their recent earnings announcements – “Our strategy in 2016 will increasingly focus on a narrower set of high value, high impact initiatives with the goal of strengthening and driving leverage across our entire portfolio of businesses. Our roadmap will be supported by greater emphasis on simplicitiy, prioritisation and ultimate ROI and investment impact.’
Fair enough. Jeff is under a lot of pressure and no doubt needed to issue a statement which assures everyone that things are OK. Linkedin has a lot of critics right now, particularly for its poor user interface/experience. Their latest financial statements saw a market run with $11bn wiped off their market capitalisation that day (-43%) which is pretty serious stuff (that’s another article). Perhaps those words could have been put to better use.
I’m no scriptwriter, yet I do insist to check all press statements that go out in my name to ensure that the words articulate what I’m thinking and reflect my own character and personality. Driving in the car today I thought, ‘How would I have said what he said, but simpler’. Here’s what came to mind…..
‘ Our plan is to get even better at the things we do well, utilising all of our resources in better ways to do better things for the people that use the platform. If we put them first, we’ll drive the results, investments and growth to secure our future.’
Like I said, I’m no expert. I confess myself to regularly us
ing management speak, it just seems to unintentionally come out, the more excited I get. The sign of an extrovert communicator!
I do recognise the trait and look to be aware of it, looking for the glance from a trusted colleague in a meeting, writing a keynote or reviewing a press release.
I fully accept that there is a time and a place for the right verncaular in business, it’s about appropriateness, it can have the opposite effect. You think you’re saying everything, yet you’re saying nothing.
Moments like this always are a great reminder to stop and reflect about your own communication style and to remember to stay aware in case someone shouts ‘house’.
Five Tips that may work for you
- Have someone else re-read your work.
- Write down ‘management speak’ words and look for them in your comms.
- Identify what the ‘vernacular’ is in your organisation and be aware that it may not be the same as the audience you are communicating to.
- Always look to keep things simple where appropriate.
- Have a trusted advisor close by that can mark your card for you.