Why waffle wastes golden opportunities to engage.

Feb 16, 2021

As you heard in our previous blog The Power of Words is now a B2B copywriting consultancy (always selling). Well, I’m Jess Watson, part of the new writing team – one of a trio of journalists turned content creators – and today, dear audience, I am on a rampage about waffle.

“Energetic, enthusiastic, tenacious and talented. Hire her in a heartbeat,” one client said of me. That’s very flattering, of course. He said it because the truth is, I don’t stop until I’ve unearthed the most attention-grabbing story that will get a B2B client’s message heard in the noisy online space.

In the business world, that golden nugget is usually hidden behind the corporate waffle, my number-one enemy. Strip it out and there’s almost always a story to be found that will strengthen your brand and get you noticed.  

So why is there still so much puff and padding doing the rounds almost 80 years since Winston Churchill said, ‘this report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read’?

Why does verbiage permeate so much of our lives?

Waffle: the number one enemy of clear thought

When I moved from the newsroom to corporate comms, it was a luxury having no daily deadline. But in its place was a far more stressful challenge: navigating the waffle and lingo.

I soon discovered I wasn’t the only one struggling to understand what things meant. While researching for a report I was writing for the NHS, I encountered a website that had been set up by trainee doctors specifically for the purpose of helping their peers translate the confusing jargon, acronyms, phrases and different job titles used in the health sector. It had become a learning module in its own right, alongside the usual stuff you’d expect a junior doctor to be taught – like clinical specialisms, medicine and surgical procedures. The website became a useful resource that I drew from when writing my report.

A clarion call for clarity

While all specialisms use their own language at a certain level, my view is if you don’t contain it at that level, it’ll filter through an organisation like Japanese knotweed and cause just as much harm. Untamed corporate language is a massive turn off for everyone: the employees you need to keep motivated, enthusiastic and inspired, and your B2B audience, whoever they are.

In 2021, there’s an urgent need for clarity. Not only will digital audiences leap off your content in a matter of seconds if it doesn’t grab, but we are in a climate of acute distrust. People crave authenticity and expertise. Information that’s authoritative and easy to digest (i.e., doesn’t tax the brain with flowery words and poorly constructed sentences) and is written by a specialist in a certain field will make far more compelling content.

My advice to clients is: once you’ve established your message and what it is you want to say, try to keep your language as simple as you can. Figure out your area of expertise, then write as much about it as possible while addressing it to a six-year-old child. Or your friend from school whose job is very different to yours.

It’s surprisingly liberating shaking free of corporate waffle and your readers will like you that much more. So go out and grab those golden opportunities with simple content that engages, not overwhelms. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with three easy tips to digest.

The Power of Words’ content tips:

  • JOG ON JARGON: If your nan doesn’t understand your copy, don’t distribute it to the world.
  • IDEAS ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT: Think like a journalist and explore many intriguing ways of telling and selling your stories.
  • DON’T BE AD HOC: strategising how your content pans out for the months ahead makes savvy business sense.

Next week, in the final part of our introduction trilogy, you’ll hear from our third writer (but by no means third wheel) at The Power of Words, Emma Hayward – a master of headlines and less is more enthusiast…

Subscribe to our newsletter

© The Power of Words. All rights reserved.  

Website by Essence.