COVIDCOMMS #40: Can we just stop using committee speak in our comms, please?

Landscape

It’s a few days after lockdown restrictions have been eased in England and people have taken to the parks in numbers.

They’ve met-up with friends and family and they’ve drunk a few cans and eaten a few barbeques.

The aftermath has been piles of rubbish.

On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday morning a guest from a national charity spoke how this scene was ‘unacceptable’ and it got me thinking – yet again – about how we settle for euphemisms.

They are ‘concerned.’

They are ‘worried.’

The action is ‘regrettable.’

Football managers are ‘delighted’.

Strikers are ‘gutted’ to miss the penalty.

In a committee, these words are code that soften the blow of fierce criticism. In public they are dreadful words that pull punches.

When I was a reporter I used to be asked by a news editor what I meant when I wrote a particularly wordy paragraph. When I translated it into plain English I was then asked to write that instead.

It’s long since time we worked out what we actually mean and then write that instead.

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