Business speak

Business speak

Business speak, also management speak refers to a particular syntax often used in large organizations. The tone is associated with managers of large corporations, business management consultants, and occasionally government. The term is typically derogatory, implying the use of long, complicated, or obscure words, abbreviations, or acronyms. Some of these words may be new inventions, designed purely to fit the specialized meaning of a situation. Frequently management speak is used to "spin" negative situations as positive situations.



Some business speak terms are:

  • 2.0 — 'two point oh' a phrase referring to next generation ideas and processes, such as, "It's time we rolled out our 2.0 branding for this campaign" and "Web 2.0".
  • Advise — a word normally reserved for formal communication in English, but used in mundane circumstances for business speak, such as, "Please advise which size of Pro Block is ordered."
  • -age- this suffix is appended to mundane words to create a more official tone, as in, "I noticed some breakage on that item. We might want to facilitate signage so there's some verbage out there as to proper usage."
  • Attn. — used on an envelope, this abbreviation for the word "Attention" is put before the name of the recipient, assumedly so that it is not opened by someone else. Critics say that the word is redundant, since the letter is obviously addressed to the recipient, with or without "Attn." before their name.
  • Around — Used instead of "with" or "on" for example, are we on track around that meeting tomorrow? Or I was struggling to come up to speed around the new system.
  • Bottom Out/ Bottom Line - Used as a verb to indicate that something needs to be done urgently - for example "we need to get that bottom-lined before the end of play today."
  • Bandwidth — nothing to do with a signal's frequency range, but rather with the amount of data that can be pushed through a wire since different wires have different capacities. Some people will say they don't have time to do something by telling people that they 'don't have the bandwidth'.
  • Boil the ocean — this phrase essentially means to tackle too many objectives at once."
  • Branded/branding — handling of a company's marketing; generally related to the overall feeling evoked by the company's products, advertisements, and graphic design in the public or the company's customers; such as in, "We need to analyze how our product is branded."
  • Communicate — instead of the simpler "say" or "tell".
  • Context — often used in place of "background" or "information". Used in conversation such as "What's the context?" or "Give me some context"
  • Deliverable — anything that has to be done by a certain date to be verified by another party. "Have you met your deliverables? What's the ETA?"[1]
  • Drill-down — A relative newcomer in Management Speak, to "drill-down" is to get into the "nitty-gritty" of a situation or scenario, for instance when a high-level report is published and the implications for smaller sections of the organization need to be ascertained, it is common for a session of "drilling-down" between managers to occur."
  • ETA — acronym for "Estimated Time of Arrival", but used in the business world as your estimated time to completion of a task. "I need the ETA on your project."
  • Facilitate — to direct the flow of a meeting. Similar in meaning to "chairing a meeting", but often in a less formal style. An example: "Will you facilitate a meeting with your team about our branding?"
  • Going forward - a confident gesture towards the future, but generally vague on timing, which usually means it can be removed from a sentence with little or no effect on its overall meaning. "Increased uncertainty has the potential to restrain economic growth going forward."[2]
  • Guided - used to abdicate responsibility for a decision, especially where the consequences of making a poor choice could be severe. Ex: "We would be guided by you on that" translates as "you make the decision, I'm not sticking my neck out"
  • Heads up - used to ask for a report/update on something, ex: "Give me a heads up on this."
  • High level - An abbreviated explanation of what would otherwise be an elongated report, including only the most pertinent details , ex: "Give me a high level explaination of the status of the project ."
  • Home Run — used to refer to a business venture that will be very profitable. "Opening a coffee shop inside of your book store is always a home run!"
  • Leverage - used more often as a verb in business speak than in conventional English, meaning "to take advantage of" or "to act upon". Critics see the verb form as an unnecessary substitution for the verb "to use", as in "She leveraged her network of contacts to find many qualified candidates."
  • "Open the kimono" To share information with an outside party.[3]
  • Out-of-pocket — For the salesperson, this term usually means that he or she is off on some non-reimbursable junket. In a more general business-speak sense, it means someone is incommunicado. For example: "I can't make that conference call tomorrow. I'm traveling to Houston and will be totally out-of-pocket for the next three days."
  • Paradigm shift – a significant change in an approach or thinking. For example, “There has recently been a paradigm shift in consumerism.”
  • Procurement – buying things.
  • Professional — as used in business speak, this term is an adjective meaning generally polite and responsible. Critics claim that its underlying implication is conventional, interchangeable blandness without any personality or style.
  • Resources - Used in place of people, when they are part of a company or process. Necessitates Resource Managers.
  • SWOT Analysis – an acronym meaning Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats Analysis. Usually used in group meetings/workshops to generate ideas and strategic goals.
  • Sweating the Assets — Used to creatively describe the process of getting every last drop of usability and value from an almost exhausted asset. Used frequently by IT Consultancies who offer "fixes" and "upgrades" to systems as the most cost-effective way of delivering benefits.
  • Synergy - 2 things working together to form a greater whole
  • Team player — someone who works well in a team or someone who does what his superiors want him to do without complaining.
  • Touch base — to contact or speak with. An example is, "We can touch base about the branding on Friday".
  • Vertical market e.g. "this product is geared toward the healthcare vertical".
  • Visibility — "to have visibility of" something is used to mean "to know about" something. For example, "I didn't have visibility of that database".
  • Vis-à-vis — meaning "in relation to" this word is used in the business world when comparing things, e.g. "let's look at last quarter's profits vis-à-vis costs".

See also

References and further reading

  • Bryan Garner’s Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage (Oxford University Press) is regarded as an authoritative guide to legal language, and is aimed at the practicing lawyer.
  • Maria Fraddosio, New ELS: English for Law Students (Naples, Edizioni Giuridiche Simone, 2008) is a course book for Italian University Students.

External links

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