The Most Cringe-worthy Jargon You Must Avoid

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

People in public relations, media relations, and corporate communications love to make fun of jargon and most have a hit list of phrases, clichés, and abbreviations that they hate.

People hate jargon.

Employees hate jargon.

Customers hate jargon.

I once introduced, “The Worst Speech in the World” to show how cringe-worthy jargon gets.

This is not the usual keynote speech I deliver, but I could likely write a customized speech just like this for every association, conference, and convention from New Orleans to New York.

So why does your CEO, VP, or manager use jargon?

Why do your work colleagues use jargon?

Here are some observations:

1) Many executives, business coaches, business trainers, and authors are looking for a profound phrase or expression. The “sticky” phrases get repeated by people who want to share what they learn from the coach, trainer, or author.

2) No one has taught the person using the cliché, especially in a speech, that originality is more profound then mimicking someone else. We can usually chalk this up to the speaker not having a speech or communications coach and trying to wing it.

3) The world is full of copycats who use copycat clichés. For many, it might be laziness or a time saver, to simply lift phrases they’ve heard all of their lives.

In conclusion, analogies are great. Use them with sensitivity, such as avoiding the phrase, “open kimono.”

Make your analogies original. People love original thoughts and ideas.

I invite you to add a list of the jargon you hate in the comment section below.


Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson



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