12 Nov

Professional terms

I caught the tail end of The Apprentice, last night – just in time to see who got fired.

I’m not sure if you’ve been watching this series, but Alan Sugar has two business advisers: Karren Brady and Claude Littner.
Both of them are incredibly successful, and – as far a I know – multimillionaires.

However, one thing that irritated me was that – in helping ‘Sir Alan’ decide which contestants should be fired – Karren Brady kept saying ‘strategy’ in every other sentence, as if the word itself ratified her position as a businessperson;

‘But where was your strategy?’

‘I didn’t see any strategy from your team’

‘What was the strategy behind your pricing?’

‘You failed, because you didn’t think about strategy’

It was strange to watch. Karren is highly successful, but it almost felt like she was thinking; ‘just keep saying strategy – that sounds businesslike in front of the cameras’.

But this isn’t limited to Karren and her profession: I find there are lots of ‘security words’ that professionals, from different industries, turn to when they suddenly need to give the impression they’re a specialist.

Marketers and digital advertising executives are always talking about ‘content creation’ and ‘content curation’, as if those words alone will convince a client of their expertise.

Those in finance will talk of ‘investments’ and ‘managing risk’.

I guess copywriters can fall back on ‘tone of voice’ if they want to sound professional. Copywriting is largely a jargon-free zone – the very basis of the profession involves the ability to communicate in the quickest manner possible, so why muddy the waters?

I’m interested to know though: what are the ‘security words’ for your industry? Which words do you fall back on when you want to convince a client that you have certain skills and – to put it bluntly – you know your sh*t?

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