4 ways to find—and replace—jargon in your writing

How to zap the buzzwords that appear in press releases, blogs, and yes, even emails from executives.

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We’ve heard the say-nothing shortcuts so often that our ears and eyes almost get accustomed to them. Well, the bad news is this: Fixing gunky corporate-speak is even harder than spotting it.

It requires swapping the buzzwords for something that actually means something—something specific that matters to your customers, co-workers, or boss. It means substituting the cliché for the crisp and coherent.

Don’t worry. These tips will make it much easier. Keep them handy. When you need a jolt out of jargon-land, pull them out and follow the four steps toward a better, clear, sharper way to say what you really mean.

Step one: Sleuth

Most jargon and buzzwords can be grouped into four categories:

• Nouns as verbs: ideate, incentivize, leverage, etc.

• Verbs as nouns: actionable, takeaway, deliverable, etc.

• Work that’s not done in an office: drill down, circle back, loop me in, etc.

• Nonsense: boil the ocean, drink from a fire hose, build the plane while flying it, etc.

Tip: Hunting the buzzwords by category should help you spot them.

Step two: Assign

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