If you find yourself saying things like "deaccession" instead of "sale," or "value minutes" instead of "commercial," you could be suffering from doublespeak, a verbal affliction that's endangering business communications in the United States. So says William Lutz, author of Doublespeak Defined: Cut Through the Bull**** and Get the Point (Harper Resource).
Lutz, a professor of English at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, and a consultant for the SEC on the Plain Language Project, on which he helped the commission write a regulations handbook in plain English, claims that all the business jargon floating around our vocabularies has eroded consumer trust of business. To be successful, he says, you need to talk straight to today's savvy consumers.
"When you're marketing, the first thing you have to gain is trust. You have to be honest and direct," Lutz says. "Trust leads to confidence. And confidence leads to people being willing to invest in you."
Lutz calls the use of business euphemisms the "pixie dust" factor. "We keep looking for the magic pixie dust that will make everything OK. The reality is, there's nothing mysterious about business. The person who blocks and tackles solidly and consistently wins."
Gwen Moran is president of Moran Marketing Associates. She is currently compiling a marketing workbook titled Promote Your Business. E-mail her at email@example.com.
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