Nov 22, 2017
This week it’s time to cut the BS out of your writing, your language, and your business. No one wants to hear lies! Most business writing and the way executives talk is just filled with BS and people are just sick of it. It’s time to stop now!
Josh Bernoff has been a professional writer since 1982 and is the author of Without Bullshit. Also, for 20 years, he was at Forrester Research, where he wrote and edited reports on the future of technology. He was also a speaker at the Gazelle’s Growth Summit this year.
While working at Forrester, Josh would often get briefs and press releases from hundreds of Tech startups, but he noticed that most of the communication he received was BS. Of all the press releases he received, only .02% of all the words in there had any real meaning to Josh. That’s a lot of waste.
So, when Josh left Forrester, he wanted to teach people how to get rid of the bullshit and get straight to the point. People use jargon because somewhere in their head they think everybody uses this terminology. However, when you use jargon, you are actually more likely to alienate the people you’re trying to connect with, your customer.
People who are used to pitching and promoting are used to using certain words like ‘widely successful,’ ‘great,’ and ‘powerful’ to drive home that big point they’re trying to make, but to the outside world, it looks like complete BS. In fact, the more of these overexaggerated words you use, the less credible you look.
Instead of being super intense and using these big empty words and jargon that no one understands, you can take lessons from famous speechwriters who would often open the speech or conversation with a proactive fact. Bill likes to lead with, “One in four of you will not complete this program, statistically speaking.” That immediately got the attention and the engagement of the entire room.
People’s attention spans are very short. Based on a survey Josh conducted for his book, people spend a total of 46 hours a week reading and writing for their work, more than a full-time job, so anything you have to say to them, it had better be eye-catching and important.
When you need to write an important memo or message to your team, then you will need to think of these four things before you craft it. The first thing is, who will be reading this? Second, what’s the objective? What change are you trying to make? Third, what action should the reader take? And fourth, what kind of impression would you like your reader to be left with about you? Josh uses the ROAM acronym to help him remember this: Readers, Objective, Action, iMpressions.