This week, someone sent me a meeting appointment for an Ideation Session. Erm, what?
I’ve worked as a copywriter for a big, American company for 4 years now. So I’m fluent in the language of ‘business speak’. (Or, as I’ve affectionately renamed it, Corporate ****. Fill in the blanks – you’ll be right.) But ‘ideation’ has recently moved up my own personal chart of words (is it even one of those?) which is just unnecessary. And ridiculous. And usually used by someone who’s not particularly clever to pretend that they are, in fact, rather clever.
Circle back, reach out… fall over
But the invitation to this session of ideating (sounds like it’ll hurt) is just the tip of the corporate-speak iceberg. I’ve ideated ‘against’ particular topics and ‘circled back’ on others. I’ve ’touched base by end of play’ and am often advised to ‘reach out’ to my fellow colleagues to ensure that we’re all ‘singing from the same song sheet’.
Seriously – some of these phrases just sound plain rude to me. Don’t even get me started on ‘low-hanging fruit’.
Luckily for me, the person I report to is the Plain English Campaign’s number one fan. Not only would I be laughed at if I started sentences with ‘Going forward…’ I think it could jeopardise my bonus.
So I’m encouraged to have fun with the barrage of unnecessary jargon that’s fired at me daily. Corporate Bingo is the best way to liven up a dull meeting – if we need to be ‘proactive’ about an issue, that’ll get us 10 points; if it’s an issue we need to ‘cascade’, that’s a 20. Let’s do a Mexican wave as an energiser to celebrate!
Laughing at these words and phrases, and the people who use them, certainly makes the working day more entertaining. (Best done inwardly, or not at all, if the CEO’s involved). I’ve started challenging my peers when they use convoluted language, and recently asked a colleague what he meant by ‘syncromeshing’. He wasn’t entirely sure.
But the one that takes the business biscuit, and which appeared in an email from someone fairly important a few weeks ago, concerned a problem that could’ve been disastrous but turned out not to be. It was, apparently, a ‘bat up our nightdress’.
I’m not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing. And as for the fact that we also, collectively, appear to be sharing one nightdress, well, that’s another post entirely…
Today’s guest blogger is Vicky Sandison. Vicky is a copywriter for a toys and games company and, in her spare time, swears on Twitter.