Banning ‘coterminous stakeholder engagement’

Any idea what that phrase means?

It’s a good example of the type of jargon that you still encounter in much of the business world.

But it’s not only the business world that’s awash with pompous words and phrases that confound and confuse normal people.

The Daily Telegraph reports that local councils have been ordered to stop using incomprehensible jargon when communicating with the public:

[…] The plain-speaking edict has been issued by the Local Government Association, which represents the interests of councils throughout England and Wales.

Sir Simon Milton, the association’s chairman, explained: "Why do we have to have ‘coterminous stakeholder engagement’ when we could just ‘talk to people’ instead?"

[…] "Without explaining what a council does in proper English then local people will fail to understand its relevance to them or why they should bother to turn out and vote."

Among the words and phrases that are now on the banned list are "multi-agency", "revenue streams", "seedbed", "improvement lever" and "community engagement."

The Telegraph’s story doesn’t say what the plain-English alternatives to these words might be.

I’m sure our local representatives will need some encouragement to speak more plainly and, thus, communicate more effectively.

So my suggestion would be that the next time you’re at your local council meeting, prepare yourself beforehand with a copy of the Buzzword Bingo game card.

Print out sufficient copies so everyone in the meeting can play the game.

I bet you know how the game works as this became quite popular in the 90s when everyone had a PDA like a Palm Pilot, a Psion, or even an Atari Portfolio (I still have one of those, tucked away in the Old Gadgets cupboard) .

So as you hear the buzzwords and jargon trotting out, mark them off on your game card until you complete a row, vertically or horizontally.

Then stand up and loudly proclaim: "Bullshit!"

It’s your civic duty.