By Melissa Walsh
What’s nonsense business language good for? Absolutely nothing.
Yet we see it on many websites, especially those of technical and industrial suppliers. True, despite poor webcopy, these companies manage to stay in business. The rationale is, “We’re doing fine. No need to hire a professional to communicate who we are and what services and products we provide.” So the leaders of these companies choose to continue communicating to potential business partners and customer prospects like Mr. Spock instead of humans living on planet Earth.
Certainly, this thinking leads to lost opportunity not calculated in an annual report.
Instead of relying on a professional writer to develop website and other promotional copy, these business thinkers task the intern, low-level sales or operations employee, or maybe even the technical writer to pull something together in the spare time of their 9-to-5 day.
The result is business jargon strong in hyperbole and weak in information. The copy is convoluted, wordy, dry, ineffective business speak that means little to a prospect seeking to understand what the business does and what differentiates it.
Here are examples of nonsense business language:
Businesses who do not understand the value of investing in good writing post this nonsense on their websites, and likely in other communications pieces. A website is a window into a company. Yet too many companies present robotic nerds talking nonsense business jargon in the parlor.
Good communication, formal and informal, breathes and has a human rhythm. Words should be short. Phrases should be succinct. The message should be authentic and stick to the reader’s memory. It should awaken, alert, and inform. A business should feed a message to a reader like a pass in sports — direct, vibrant, and crisp.
In the chapter “Business Writing: Writing in Your Job,” from his book On Writing Well, William Zinnser recommends being “yourself when you write” for business. For company leaders, this means knowing your company and its branding and presenting it sensibly and like a human in your business-to-business and business-to-customer communications. “You will stand out as a real person among the robots,” Zinsser says.
When written communication isn’t a core strength of a business, that business must bring on board a professional writer or writing team who can present the company’s strengths clearly, avoiding nonsense jargon.
© 2015, Powerplay Communications
"A website is a window into a company. Yet too many companies present robotic nerds talking nonsense business jargon in the parlor."
Raised in the Motor City, Melissa Walsh is a content solutions guru with a background in reference publishing, journalism, teaching, and applied engineering. Her identity is shared as a writer, mom, history nerd, and hockey player. She also knows how to turn a wrench and use a scantool.