We work in communications; we help our clients reach out, both internally and externally. If we're doing that well, we're helping people connect with a message, to believe in it.

So, when we wrap our message up in business speak, we're not activating our delivery mechanisms, sorry, I mean we're missing a trick. It's perhaps understandable why this happens. One day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed we enter the business world thinking that it's a place for adults, severe people in nice suits who drink coffee and looks at graphs. We don't want to be 'found out', so we change, we adopt the language that we think business people use and because there's weird tribalism in most companies, nobody calls us out that we're talking nonsense. Next thing we know it's 15 years later and we're in a meeting telling people that we need to 'take it offline' instead of saying we don't walk to talk about it anymore.

Have you ever dipped into corporate jargon outside of business? If so, you've probably been met with a barrage of 'what the hell are you on about?' comments from your partner or friends. If our language doesn't work for the people we care about, why would we think it's any better in the business world?

I'm lucky enough to come from a big family.

Every get-together is typically a small, elite task-force of adults fighting against a swarming tide of children. Wait, I mean a group of caring parents looking after their little darlings. When you speak with kids you realise two things - they say what they want, and they pick the most direct route of saying it. Wow. Doesn't that sound nice? I wonder what else we could learn from these tiny sages.

I'll be the first to admit that Live Group fell victim to corporate jargon for a good few years. In fact bullshit bingo players would have done very well in our offices. So it was refreshing when our rebrand made us look at the language we were using. As in, really take a look. We had to take the time to create a tone-of-voice that represented what we are - a bunch of hard-working people who love helping our clients. It's not the most revelatory announcement, but at the end of the day, Live Group is made up of humans. Living, breathing people who communicate naturally (post-Friday beers notwithstanding). 

So, we set ourselves a challenge. Kill the bullshit. Speak like humans. Forget everything business taught us about how we should speak and instead focus on what we were trying to say. Two things happened quite quickly; emails got a whole hell of a lot shorter and people could understand our proposals without employing a jargon translator. It's funny actually... when people understand what you're trying to sell them, they're far more likely actually to buy into it.

If you're tired of wading through the jargon swamp, start making the change yourself. Encourage your colleagues to do the same. Next time you sit down to write an email, think about what you're trying to accomplish, what's the ideal result? How do you get there? If you're trying to get Shannon from accounting to send an invoice, do you need to tell her about last night’s football results before you check whether she has the 'bandwidth' to do a task?

No, ask her. Send the email.

We don't come across as more intelligent or more friendly when we bulk our messages out with tangents and business talk. Good people respect other people's time, so let's get to the point.

Next time you sit down to write an email, think about what it is you're trying to accomplish, what's the ideal result? How do you get there?

I want to put this challenge out there to the broader communications world. Let's do our jobs - let's create clear and concise messages that reflect ourselves and our clients, respecting the time and intelligence of everyone that engages with them.

If you like what I'm saying and you want to work with an agency that practices what it preaches, put us to the test. Give us a brief, see if our proposals and pitches are different, we'll even bring the bullshit bingo card.

Until then I'll be engaging in some blue-sky thinking, getting outside of the box, pinging my colleagues and leveraging solutions at scale, all to move the needle for our clients.

Or, you know, helping our clients do better.

 

Marcus Naef
Commercial Director

Marcus is a torchbearer for the power of effective communications. With a track record spanning almost two decades in some of the UK’s leading agencies, his skills lie in listening closely to your needs, getting to know your business and assembling the right team to make communications clear, targeted and truly responsive to your audience.

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