I had the opportunity recently to be a co-presenter in a media training session. One of the tips we always give prospective spokespeople is to avoid the use of jargon and meaningless tech words.
We have a solid list of offenders:
And, last but not least, the word I’ve found most bothersome of late: Leverage.
Most of the time PR, marketing and sales folks are leveraging leverage to such a degree that it’s meaningless. Whether as a verb, noun, adjective, it’s been misused, overused and tweaked to the point where all relevance and impact is gone. There probably hasn’t been an enterprise hardware or software press release issued in the last 20 years without some leverage, somewhere.
It’s especially popular in headlines:
Maybe somebody knows what it means to leverage LTO-5 with a long-term file system, but you’ve got me with that one. The point of putting out a press release, for instance, is to communicate information so that it can be understood, not to leave people scratching their heads in confusion. Most of time when I see the word leverage, it’s unclear what going on. Or, maybe the author didn’t know either.
If you’re a TV watcher, you know that leverage even has it owns series on TNT starring Timothy Hutton. The series is well done, and the use of the word leverage here almost forgivable. As names for undercover spy-like thrillers with a twist go, it’s impossible to top Mission Impossible. But Leverage perhaps isn’t horrible, as used in this trailer:
So if you’re producing a hit TV series, I’ll let you off the hook. For everyone else, take a minute and look at your copy or slide deck. How many times are you leveraging something? Three? Five? Ten? Do yourself and your readers a favor and cut that number in half. Or, if you’re truly committed to reform, delete them all. You just don’t need any more leverage.