The Wall Street Journal’s Business Buzzwords Generator uses overused words submitted by readers to generate sentences like this one:

“Our ideation center is focused on new ways to dialog the consumer space through robust deployments of minimum viable product.”

Like all good humour, this silly tool points out a truth. Product and service descriptions, strategies, business plans, and presentations usually sound like they could have been created by a generator like this.

Why does this happen so frequently?

It’s not because we intend to speak in meaningless gobbledegook, but because we’re trying to distil complex ideas into the fewest possible number of words. So we use abstract language as a kind of short-hand.

Instead of simplifying, however, abstraction just makes it hopelessly confusing for anyone who doesn’t speak that language. 

To make sense and to be memorable, messages need to go the other way. They need to be more concrete.

For example, do you remember the description Apple used when it introduced the iPod? Was it “portable, digital music player with a 5 GB hard drive?” 

No. It was, “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Concrete.

Do you find yourself slipping into abstractspeak? Stop and find a way to express yourself in more concrete terms.