All abuzz about buzzwords
Thanks for your brilliant (yes, brilliant) article on buzzwords ("Are you a buzzword abuser?" April). As an instructor in California State University, Sacramento's College of Continuing Education ("Communication Strategies for IT Managers" is one of the classes I teach), I was thrilled to see this topic addressed in such a clear, realistic and pithy way. We really are insufferable when we take ourselves and our "special language" so seriously — for all the reasons listed in your article and Podium column. Here are just a few of my other all-time "words to flinch by": scalable (sounds like something you should check out with your dermatologist); performance consulting (whatever happened to skill-building, training and developing?); 1-on-1s (sounds a little too intimate for anything in an office); and any noun mutated into a verb (e.g., orientate).
Joan Zeglarski Sacramento, Calif.
Loved your article on buzzwords, but there is something you left out. Have you noticed that certain adjectives are consistently used to describe new software products? It seems that all new software is:
e) all of the above
f) a combination of a, b, c and/or d.
Not quite buzzwords, but certainly first cousins.
Sam Conner McLean, Va.
Great story on buzzwords. People who use these meaningless words show their ignorance of real language every time. I am especially pleased that you included the word solutions, which is probably the most pretentious and useless word in marketing. I urge everyone who believes in eliminating this trash from marketing to show people this story, and follow through by keeping these vapid words and phrases out of everything they write and speak.
Bruce Rowe Director, Marketing Communications ViaSat Inc. Carlsbad, Calif.
Your buzzword abuse article in April was by far the best thing I've ever read in your magazine. May I add to your list of clichés decision-maker, under the radar, bring to the table, full plate, step up to the plate and finally, my all time least favorite, on the same page. Thanks again for your article. I just put it on the break-room bulletin board for our lunch-time fun.
Amy Wood Greensboro, N.C.
I enjoy Presentations magazine and found your article about buzzword abusers amusing. I understand the point you are trying to make and it is a good one. But I have to disagree about some of the terms that you call buzzwords. Terms such as early adopter, core competency, intuitive interface, user-friendly and solutions (to name a few) are still very appropriate and descriptive terms. Your dumbed-down versions such as what we do best and easy-to-use might seem like clearer alternatives, but they don't necessarily mean the same thing.
Peter Hoagland Warrenton, Va.
Nothing drives me crazier than some pompous gal or guy who insults my ear and my vocabulary with a host of artificial acronyms denoting nothing. Thought you might enjoy a poem I wrote on the subject. Keep up the great work.
An Ode to Yuppie Business Buzz
FACILITY and FOCUS, I just will not say, ISSUES, IMPACTS, from these lips, You'll not hear today.
EMPOWER, INPUT, DIALOGUE, Leave for TV anchors, And talk-show demagogues.
INTERACT, INTERRELATE, FACILITATE and PREPLAN, Wow, who's fooling who, Just plan, write, and not so grand.
Scribe plain and clear, simple and short, whenever you can, Shun -ESE and -IZE, and forget you ever heard of -WISE Write in half the time, plus we'll all understand.
Jack Flobeck Colorado Springs, Colo.
On your April cover, is not the depiction of two white guys "picture abuse" (i.e., sexist and racist)? Why was only one gender shown? Are males the only ones using jargon? The illustrations used [in the feature article] also show white males. Are Euro-Americans the only ones using jargon?
Ralph King New Market, Md.
Editor's note: We did not mean for our choice of an April cover image to imply that only white males use jargon. Rest assured that everyone, regardless of race, creed, gender or computer preference is a potential buzzword abuser, and the article was intended to disparage them all.
Aloha, what about us?
Living in Hawaii, I just received the April issue and was pleased to see Tom Mucciolo's article on presenting via the Internet ("Meet me on the Web," April). But what happened to Alaska and Hawaii on your illustrated map and in the text regarding time zones? Although we live on an island in the Pacific, our business is developing and delivering presentations and training through Webconferences, and we constantly work with multiple time zones all over the world. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing an interesting mainland Webinar scheduled for 6:00 a.m.
Kathleen Barclay, Ph.D. Holualoa, Hawaii