10 Words I Use Now That I'm a Corporate Tool

April 3, 2015

Slate Labs has been developing a tool called Plain English that "translates" legalese, technical jargon or other lingo-heavy English into just plain English. NPR used the tool to translate the Federal Reserve's $600 billion stimulus plan. When you click on a yellow phrase, it toggles over to a gray translation in plain speech, like so:

Plain English

Note that you can't use it to automatically generate translations; it's just a way of presenting two versions of a text. (I find Slate's disclaimer at the top of the page funny: This product is still in development. Contact us if you have an idea for how to use it. Aren't you supposed to come up with a reason for its being before you develop it?)

Anyway, this got me thinking about all the corporate lingo that I used to disparage and have pretty much just given into. Why fight it? Everybody else is talking this way, why can't I?

Here are ten unfortunate business-speak words that have entered my workaday lexicon:

  1. Solution: This used to drive me crazy – why not just say software or product? But now I've come to appreciate that there's a subtle difference between, for example, shelves and a shelving solution.
  2. Granular: As in, how granular can you get with the geographic filters? Very granular! You can really drill down.
  3. Bandwidth: Not the actual meaning (the transmission capacity of a communications system), but the metaphorical meaning: I can tackle that now that I have a little more bandwidth.
  4. Tranche: I still don't really have a handle on what this one means, but I like saying it.
  5. Takeaways: Forget meetings and PowerPoints, I'm starting to conceptualize my regular life this way. When my boyfriend asks how my day went, I think, "What were the takeaways?"
  6. Value-add: Cheating a bit here since I use this more in phrase form. Shy person at a dinner party? Not adding much value. Sour cream on enchiladas? Big value-add, usually comes free!
  7. Leverage: "Using" something feels so tawdry compared to "leveraging" it. Am I the only one who actually pictures a guy using a lever?
  8. Messaging: I've found all kinds of new ways to say "words": messaging, creative, copy, text, "language." As in, Can we get some clarifying language here?
  9. Repurpose: You can "do more with less" at home, too! May I suggest you use a binder clip for beer storage?
  10. Influence: The noun, not the verb. As in clout. It's something you leverage.

Admit it – you use these words too. What did I forget?

Web Marketing Highlights This Week

Ruud Hein lists 10 business implications of the new Google Instant Previews. Like us he points out that images and design will become more important, and spammy ad traps may lose traffic.

Marketing Pilgrim notes that Google has changed its "Sponsored Links" label to the (seemingly) more straightforward "Ads." I noticed this too. What might this change mean?

The National Labor Relations Board declared it unlawful for an employer to fire someone for making negative comments about the work environment on Facebook. Don't go crazy with the boss-bashing, though – you're only protected under certain circumstances.

Sandra Niehaus describes the three essential traits of conversion-friendly design.

Wil Reynolds talks about the high-converting keywords you're probably not optimizing for: X vs. Y keywords comparing your company and a competitor.

Geoff Kenyon provides a guide to getting your community to build links for you. Suckers!

Why does some content go viral? Ars Technica says a game theory model explains it.

Blind Five Year Old explains why you shouldn't use Excel's average function on your click-through rates.

Brad Geddes explains where to find valuable keyword data you already have but never use.

PPC Blog looks at how Google Instant Previews might affect your PPC strategy and how they are crowding out the ads in the siderail.

Cindy Royal takes on Wired for sexist magazine covers.

Have a great weekend!

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is WordStream's Director of Content and SEO. Likes include wine, karaoke, poker, ping-pong, perfume, and poetry.