GrammarPhile Blog

Break Your Bizspeak Addiction

Posted by Terri Porter   Apr 28, 2016 5:30:00 AM

sick emoji faceBelow are some excerpts from several emails I’ve received just in the past week … all from different people:

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

I don’t have the bandwidth to take that on right now.

Please find enclosed …

As per our recent conversation …

She has a great deal of experience in the web marketing space.

If you’re thinking, “What’s the problem?” or “Sounds like a lot of emails I send,” I have some bad news for you … you may be suffering from bizspeak — a highly contagious affliction characterized by a propensity for verbosity and pomposity in some cases (type 1) and, in others, by an insatiable addiction to jargon and buzzwords (type 2).

Bizspeak can clutter your message, alienate your target audience and exhaust your readers. Here we talk about how to recognize both types and how to rid your writing of bizspeak for good.


Symptoms of the type 1 virus include the following:

You Frequently Write ...  Instead of ... 
utilize use
be of assistance help
in light of the fact because
commence begin, start
cease stop
manner way
obtain get
prior to before


If your writing sounds inflated or stuffy, you’re almost sure to have the type 1 virus.

You can catch it by repeatedly choosing words that, although widely known, are more formal than those you’d typically use in conversation — usually because of some underlying desire to seem smarter, more educated or more businesslike, or because you’ve been taught that formality is the hallmark of good writing.

The type 2 virus, on the other hand, tends to affect those who want to sound in the know or to show they rightfully belong to a particular group because they can talk the talk. “Talking the talk” includes writing or saying things like:

Drill down
Paradigm shift
Think outside the box
Space (referring to an industry or field)
Vertical (referring to a market niche)

Perhaps the most recognizable hallmark of type 2 is the overuse of ize words:  

Utilize (also see type 1)


The first step in breaking your bizspeak addiction is awareness. If you’re still reading, congratulations … you’ve taken the first step.

Next is acknowledging you have a problem. This step can be harder if bizspeak has become part of your day-to-day vocabulary. Add to the lists above any other phrases you or your colleagues regularly use, and begin to search for these phrases both in your own writing and in the correspondence or documents you receive from others. Before long, you’ll likely begin to see bizspeak everywhere you look. Once you recognize it, you can more easily avoid it in your own writing.

What kinds of bizspeak do you encounter (in your own or others’ writing) on a regular basis? Let us know in the comments below.


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Topics: bizspeak, buzzwords

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