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Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter's Guide Hardcover – March 2, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Dull, verbose, evasive language that disguises empty-headed clichés with jargon-drenched hype is pilloried in this diverting indictment of everyday business-speak. The authors are consultants, and their familiarity with the subject, enhanced through their side job peddling "Bullfighter" anti-jargon software, gives their irreverent critique a funny, knowing edge. Besides ridiculing some ripe samples of corporate pseudo-communication, they offer advice on the art of "persuasion" in every genre, from the humble e-mail to the shareholders' address, and throw in tips on public speaking, dress and deportment. Much of their advice-keep things concrete and specific, talk about what your audience is interested in-is fine, but some suggestions, like spicing up corporate presentations with ethnic humor, sexual innuendo and mild profanity, are certain to backfire. The authors also open themselves to their own critique. They throw around buzzwords like "authenticity," vapid clichés like "being you is all you'll ever need" and meaningless hype like "one-quarter of the gross domestic product is linked to persuasion." One of their recommendations for making presentations "spontaneous" and "personal" is to download anecdotes from an anecdote Web site. An injunction to brevity is translated into a mindless bean-counting formula proscribing sentences longer than 21 words (a figure derived from the "Flesch Reading Ease Scale"). And while they complain that "technology...makes it too convenient to automate the one part of business that should never be outsourced: our voice," their signature remedy for turgid, jargon-riddled prose is to run it through their anti-jargon computer program. The authors deliver a scintillating diagnosis of the problems in business communications, but sometimes their cure for the disease is the disease. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Let's face it. Business today is drowning in bullshit," say the authors of this timely, highly entertaining guide to cutting through corporatespeak and communicating effectively. Fugere and his coauthors, Chelsea Hardaway and Jon Warshawsky, are all veterans of the consulting giant Deloitte, and they speak with a jaded insider's view of "hype-filled, self-aggrandizing product literature" and "elephantine" reports that "shed less than two watts of light on the big issues." The concise chapters focus on common communication traps of business executives, including the tendency to write obscure, colorless, template information rather than clear material that speaks directly to its audience. Throughout, excerpts of egregious corporatespeak offer amusing, cautionary examples, and an appended glossary includes more offending phrases, along with deliciously sardonic definitions. Best of all, the authors suggest plenty of practical ways to break the bad habits. In an era in which phrases such as "going-forward value proposition" are supposed to mean something, this is a crucial guide, filled with "value-added deliverables" for readers in all professions who yearn for basic, substantive communication. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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This is exactly what it feels like after reading this book. You won't be used any of the cool, meaningless terms or expressions after that. Plus you'll get a good laugh or at least a smile each time hear or read a presentation from one of these expensive consultants.
On the bright side it'll help you sharpen your communication skills by removing all the extraneous terms and expressions that are just meaningless.
A quick and insightful read, that should mandatory in the C-suite. This would make stupid corporate mission statement and empty corporate strategy presentations a thing of the past.
The book is a quick read in plain english that I have gifted to two important people--my brother (a journalist) and my best friend (who is currently writing a book on leadership).
To be quite honest, I usually dislike leadership books and I believe they are an excuse to make money without doing a lot of work, but Fugere et. al. has done their work and written an excellent piece of non fiction. (includes glossary of bull) And you CAN get the Bullfigher software described in the book, it can be downloaded free at [...] which is also the book's official website.
"The historical trends have led me to conclude that by doubling or even tripling our efforts of efficiency on the domestic front, it will yield a new entity of massive synergistic proportions. I therefore wish to present to you this exhibit (a composite of metallic and mineral elements) acquired from licensed retail channels as a symbol of our new alliance. Your acceptance of this strategy would launch a series of initiatives culminating in an event that would be in compliance with local and national authorities and internationally recognized by virtually all foreign governments. Your prompt feedback in this matter is in the best interests of all stakeholders."
"Will you marry me?"
If you think the above example is absurd, think again because it's exactly how lots of business people write their emails, PowerPoints, and reports. It's also how graduate students write their research papers. It's also how lawyers write their legal briefs.
Ironically, I think the very people this book could help are the same people that don't recognize they have a problem.
For those people that already write in a plain concise style, this book is a very entertaining review of business writing nonsense. Sadly, genuine people thinking hard about real solutions to problems are outnumbered by pretenders just blowing smoke.
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