A great post from Clare Lynch on Ragan’s PR Daily looks at the speech Winston Churchill made at the fall of France during the Second World War.
This was one of the lowest points for Britain during the war and Churchill doesn’t sugar coat the pill.
Lynch wisely uses the speech as a lesson for managers and executives steering them away from the corporate double-speak which inspires no-one and leaves everyone confused.
Churchill was a great communicator. If you need help polishing your writing or speeches, get in touch with me. I can help.
If you Google the phrases “time frame” and “editorial style” you’ll find advice telling you to spell the first term as two words, not one. None of them say whether you should or shouldn’t use the phrase.
I say time frame is best avoided.
According to the Oxford dictionaries the time frame is a noun meaning:
a specified period of time in which something occurs or is planned to take place: the work had to be done in a time frame of fourteen working days
Which is fair enough. Although it would be far better to say (or write): “You’ve got fourteen days to do the work”.
Time frame is one of those business jargon phrases used to pad out sentences and allegedly make the speaker sound knowledgeable. I hear it and think the speaker is a windbag.
A useful piece at the Columbia Journalism Review chewing over the difference between words like electric and electrical or historic and historical.
Avoid jargon if you can. Sometimes you have no choice.
It makes your writing difficult to understand and puts readers off. Jargon confuses readers and in many cases jargon is ambiguous – always a sign of poor communication. It puts a barrier between you and your readers.
Where you can, simply drop the jargon term. Use easily understood descriptive words and phrases instead.
When you can’t avoid a jargon term give your reader a short definition in plain English.
If possible add an example to illustrate the definition.
My last post featured ‘participative management’ as an unavoidable jargon term.
I explained this as:
Participative management, a way of running things where the workers take part in decision-making.
It is best not to use jargon. You may think otherwise, but it makes your writing harder to understand.
After writing about the virtues of easy-to-read writing, I re-read earlier stories on this site and found shocking examples of management jargon.
For example, in Managing change: keeping a lid on panic I wrote about ‘participative management’.
Could I have written the story without using jargon?
Ambiguous language, bad language
‘Participative management is ambiguous – it could mean a number of things. And the five syllable word ‘participative’ worries me on a number of fronts.
The phrase is typical of the highfalutin jargon-laden nonsense empty-headed bosses puff themselves up with.
Yes, I confess it is bad. Yet I don’t think it would be possible to write about the subject without using the term.
I thought of going back and changing the term to ‘open management’. The term is still a tad wanky and ambiguous, but ‘open’ is miles better than ‘participative’.
The problem is, nobody understands what the term ‘open management’ means. You could almost say the same about ‘participative management’. But management experts and academics understand the term.
Google lists 170,000 entries for ‘participative management’. They mainly refer to the same thing.
It lists 73,000 entries for ‘open management’. One look at the first page of entries shows the term used in a variety of ways – in some cases for complicated information technology things.
So, it looks as if we are stuck with ‘participative management’ and hundreds of other management terms. In my next post we’ll look at how to use them and not lose our readers.