Corporate speak: why it’s so damaging for your clients

Kath Hooper

Clarior Copy | Intelligent content for professional services

If I told you “I masticated the tree fruit to ensure maximum health benefits to my internal productivity” you’d either think I was a wally, a liar or a little bit bonkers.

No doubt you’d wonder why I was trying to make “eating an apple” sound like some sort of complex, ground-breaking medical trial.

It’s the same for copy.

Using grandiose (and incomprehensible) words is not the best way to promote your client’s services. Your copy needs to be easy-to-read, and easy-to-understand. Readers don’t care about tautologous sentences and over-complicated words.

They want to know what your client does and the value they add.

Here are a few reasons why a tirade of waffle is damaging for your clients’ businesses.

Trust: Bluster makes you sound untrustworthy

Just like my ‘eating an apple’ example, if you try to dress up a simple idea in grandiose language, you sound disingenuous to a reader. It’s like you’ve got something to hide.

For example, I saw one business who boasted on their website that they “manage your energy consumption by recommending seasonal changes to the HVAC settings.” What? You turn the air con up and down?

Your reader will see right through it. They’ll question what other strange disguises you might to deploy to mask your weaker propositions.

These ‘HVAC warriors’ have lost any potential client who reads that website copy. They’ll go to another competitor who is authentic about their services, and won’t dress up the simple stuff to make them sound more impressive.

There’s a subconscious bias that you’ll try to charge them more money for your ‘grander-sounding’ services and nobody likes to feel swindled.

Relatability: It comes across as pompous

What impression does this paragraph give you about this business:

We pride ourselves on being a responsible business, for our colleagues, customers, partners and the communities in which we work. A provider of critical and essential services in organisations around the world, every day we set out to help our customers to be their best. We have an important responsibility, but also a compelling opportunity to make a real difference to both people and the planet. With over 90,000 employees across 23 countries, we know we have real power to bring about positive change in the communities in which we operate.


It’s a bit self-congratulatory isn’t it? The sentiment is good: a global business that recognises that they can impact people’s lives for the better. But the delivery is pompous and you end up thinking that they’re trying too hard.

By being more realistic, you can take the strain out of those claims:

We recognise that our business is in a position to make a tangible difference to people and the planet. As a provider of essential services with over 90,000 employees across 23 countries, we have real power to bring about positive change in the communities we serve. That’s why being a responsible business is so important to us. We want to use our unique position to create lasting change. 


Being a little more understated is a lot more relatable.

Clarity: Waffle is confusing

Confused people don’t invest in your services.

What do you think this person is getting at?

Prior to implementing emergency preparedness measures, conducting a comprehensive risk assessment specific to the facility is imperative. This assessment enables the identification of potential emergency scenarios such as fires, natural disasters, or security breaches.


Did you get the gist? Did you even get to the end?

How about when it’s written this way:

The first step is to prepare a thorough risk assessment of the facility. Think about what happens in the event of fire, a natural disaster, or security breaches.


Much easier to read, right?

Don’t blind your reader with confusing temporal structures, the passive voice, and excess words. Just get to the point, simply and quickly and in a logical order.

If you want to be seen as  straightforward, honest and relatable, just use normal, simple words to describe what you do.

Sure, we can add a bit of flair and I’m not averse to multi-syllabic words. But it still needs to read like you’re a human, and not some sort of corporate-bot programmed by Jar Jar Binks.


You can


Cover photo by kate.sade on Unsplash


20th March 2024

Jane Lamprill

Hi Kath
I really enjoyed your piece about fighting waffle with truth.’Twas music to my ears. I write lay language for the medical and health sector – where misunderstandings can be well, dangerous!

Like the (mainly true) story of woman who was told something like ‘It is of paramount importance that the patient completes the course of medication ensuring that they consume the blister packs which identify each day of the week daily as directed by the physician.’ She was given a month’s supply of tablets, in 4 blister packs, one for each week. But she took ALL the Monday ones on Monday & all the Tuesday ones on Tuesday etc … and by the end of the week felt very ill! In fact I am surprised she lived to tell the tale…

Take care and do keep in touch if you’d like to
Jane x

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