Fastest Way to Stop Using Business Jargon? Stop Using Adjectives and Adverbs

You can always spot the new/bad writer — they’re the ones who fervently believe if they use dramatic, purple prose, with lots of flowery adjectives and fancy-schmancy words that end in -ly, the enthralled reader will be captivated by their breath-taking abilities.

No, it just makes me want to puke.

Similarly, you can tell the new/bad marketer, because they’re the ones who spew business jargon like a baby eating a cracker.

They also make me want to puke.

I found a slide deck on 15 marketing buzzwords (see below) we need to quit using now. I’m happy to say I don’t use 14 of them. (I still like to say “content marketing,” but now I feel guilty about it.)

But I also know that a lot of people create a lot of bullshit terms (check out the bullshit generator here), and I realized what the problem was.

It’s adverbs and adjectives.

No, seriously!

Think about it. Ernest Hemingway is considered one of the greatest writers of our time, and it was a rare adjective that made its way into his prose. Same goes for adverbs. Why describe a verb, when you can just use a better verb?

And yet we do that with a lot of our marketing jargon as well.

  • Best-of-breed
  • Cutting edge
  • Value-added
  • Revolutionary
  • Scalable
  • Epic

And so on.

Sadly, this won’t eliminate all of the business jargon, but I’m hoping that just by limiting yourself to nouns and verbs — “I love this coffee” instead of “This is epic coffee!” — it may jar your brain enough to start speaking like a normal person again.

If you could even do this with your writing, you’ll find it’s much easier to read and understand.

(And yes, I realize “easier” is an adverb. But then again, I’m not Ernest Hemingway.)

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency He co-authored four social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (3rd ed., 2017, Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.