24 November 2006

The end for buzzword bingo?

I just heard about an email that recently went out to all staff in IBM Business Consulting Services, describing ways to improve the consultants' writing skills.

One of the helpful tips suggested avoiding verbosity:

Using concise words is important especially in business situations where people do not have time to wade through extraneous words. The fewer words you can use without changing your meaning, the better. The following table shows some examples of using concise words to replace wordy phrases.

Wordy PhrasesConcise word or phrase
at the present time, at this point in timenow
due to the fact thatbecause
during the course ofwhile
for the simple reason thatbecause

Another, not repeating yourself:

A redundancy is a phrase that conveys the same meaning twice; for example, few in number. The part of the expression, in number, repeats the meaning of the first word and provides the reader with no new information.

And the final nail in the coffin, use simple words instead of complex ones:

Some writers think they must use big words to impress the reader. If the inflated word is the best choice for your intent, use it. But if a synonym is simpler and says the same thing, use it instead. When in doubt, use a thesaurus.

Inflated wordClear word
utiliseuse (verb)
utilisationuse (noun)
differentialdifference
requisiterequired, needed
deleteriousharmful

I'm actually rather disappointed. I'll never again be able to hear Big Blue's consultants talking about maximising overall utilisation during the course of delivering business opportunities.