Public Speaking Gobbledygook Baffles Office Audiences

By Andrew Ivey | Public Speaking

Dec 27
Public speaking gobbledygook

Public speaking gobbledygook

You only have to listen to the average business presentation to know that office jargon is everywhere. That’s a personal observation from just about everyone we meet running training courses.

Your first impression of office jargon or management speak might be amusement. But when that impression gives way to bafflement there’s a bigger problem.

A problem of communication. Or more realistically, non-communication. The words used by the speaker or writer hide the intended meaning.

That’s the conclusion this month of the Plain English Campaign. They’ve just announced the annual winners of their Plain English Awards; a series of awards for spoken and written English. And, of course, there are some prizes for the other extreme–the foot in mouth award for example.

They’ve achieved some good publicity for both the campaign and the awards in papers such as the Daily Mail. Well done.

Public Speaking Gobbledygook

Your bafflement with office jargon is made worse when it becomes public speaking gobbledygook. That moment when private office jargon creeps into the speaker’s notes, onto the PowerPoint slides and into the auditorium.

What’s your reaction when you listen to?

We need to squeeze the toothpaste with this one.

Bafflement? We are told that it’s a development on the popular…

We need to push the envelope.

Still baffled? Exactly. Public speaking gobbledygook leaves neither time nor space for checking understanding. Your audience has no ready glossary of gobbledygook to hand. And they are very unlikely to ask a neighbour what you are speaking about.

The problem gets worse. How about listening to this at your next business presentation?

Let’s run this up the flagpole and see who sails it.

Or, what about if the speaker calls for a…

bird table discussion.

I beg your pardon? It’s nonsensical and pernicious. But it also appears to be all-pervasive.

You can’t ignore public speaking gobbledygook. It’s a problem for the speaker–their message isn’t going to be understood. And it’s a problem for the speaker’s audience–they don’t know what the speaker is talking about. That’s communication. When it works, everyone benefits. Get it wrong and no-one gains.


About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Bracknell, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK. Andrew Ivey on Google+