By November 22, 2011 3 Comments Read More →

On Writing Simply and Saving the World Economy

Is Corporate Gobbledygook the Cause of Economic Apocalypse?

Does it never end? The words drained of all meaning? Death sentences? Weasel words? Most probably the cause of the current economic apocalypse and the bane of true understanding in corporate communications is corporate gobbledygook.

If people have no idea as to what you do or sell, why would they buy? Is this the true cause of the economic meltdown? Corporate gobbledygook? To crib a great quote from the Hall-of-Fame gobbledygooker, Alan Greenspan …

I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

That’s the retro-strategic essence of corporate gobbledygook. It was pioneered by the FED and then cribbed by tech writers. Now it’s a pandemic.

David Meerman Scott has been writing about this for years. I’d say that David Meerman Scott and corporate gobbledygook are synonymous.

Wait a minute.  Not like that. What I meant to say is that David has been a tireless fomenter of anti-corporate gobbledygookism.


In David’s latest revolutionary fomentation called Making Your Writing Easy to Understand, he takes a kindler, gentler approach to outing the gobbledygook offender. David actually tries to help them and re-writes the impossible-to-understand-what-theHades-they-do copy to something their buyer might actually be able to comprehend. Something a buyer might search for, find and then become a customer of theirs only because it’s simple, understandable, clear and unique.

Hats off to David for being helpful and constructive. It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to ridicule. It’s classy to try to help others with no anticipation of benefit.

Simple Writing

Ernest Hemingway had a clear understanding and vision of writing simply and effectively when he discussed the four rules of writing he learned as a journalist at the Kansas City Star.

Hemingway’s Four Rules (well, not really, they were actually the Kansas City Star’s)

  1. Use short sentences.
  2. Use short first paragraphs.
  3. Use vigorous English.
  4. Be positive, not negative.

“Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing,” Hemingway said in 1940. “I’ve never forgotten them. No man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides with them.”

These rules still work.

Now … to the more important question. Why has David never used the “About Steve Bio”  as a “how-to” example of clear, concise, easy-to-understand writing? It’s a mystery.





3 Comments on "On Writing Simply and Saving the World Economy"

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  1. davidmeermanscott says:

    Ha! Steve, this is great. Thanks so much. Gobbledygook never gets old because there is so much out there! Now, about that bio…

  2. CaroleMahoney says:

    @SteveKayser@davidmeermanscott – First off, Hemingway is one of my firsts and favorites.

    As writers (and I boldly put myself in that group), we tend to want to use lots of flowing words to paint the image in our heads for others to comprehend. The mistake I think a lot of writers don’t see they are making; instead of drawing our picture for them, we should be helping them to create their own picture in their head. Inspiring imagination if you will.

    Hemingway and Frost, IMO, were masters of imagination inspiration.

    Second- I wanted to point out that the “Hemingway rules” applies to sales conversations as well.

    For example:

    1- Use short sentences.

    Always end with a question mark, not a period.

    2-Use short first paragraphs.

    Talk less, listen more.

    3-Use vigorous English.

    Use emotion!!!!!

    4-Be positive, not negative.

    Build on hope, not fear.

    Thanks for the great post- my favorite line (that I will likely recycle somewhere- like a mission statement….)

    “It’s classy to try to help others with no anticipation of benefit.”

  3. SteveKayser says:

    Really … How in the Hades did you catch the blogjacking article that quick @dmscott? Yeah, I know, my bio rocks. I really don’t want to embarrass anyone with it’s clarity of thought though. You should check out comment app. It rocks. Had their CEO, Jordan Kretchmer ( @livefyre ) on the radio show Sunday. Real-Time comments – and pulls in the real-time conversation from Twitter and Facebook. Right up your Real-Time alley!

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