Seth Godin: But You’re Not Saying Anything

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites and I highly recommend it.

In this blog post from 4 June 2010, Seth rails against the incomprehensible claptrap that is dumped on us time and time again in presentations and documents. We should all be just as upset.

A while back, I wrote a post on how to make your presentations concrete.

One of the most important things to do is use simple language. Language that means something. Not vague statements about “synergies” or “rationalization” or “streamlining efficiencies”. These words almost always mean nothing and serve only to bore or confuse your audience.

Give concrete examples of what you mean. Take Seth’s advice and make an effort to say something meaningful and worth listening to. Or don’t say anything at all.


But You’re Not Saying Anything

by Seth Godin

And this is the problem with just about every lame speech, every overlooked memo, every worthless bit of boilerplate foisted on the world: you write and write and talk and talk and bullet and bullet but no, you’re not really saying anything.

It took me two minutes to find a million examples. Here’s one, “The firm will remain competitive in the constantly changing market for defense legal services by creating and implementing innovative and effective methods of providing cost-effective, quality representation and services for our clients.”

Write nothing instead. It’s shorter.

Most people work hard to find artful ways to say very little. Instead of polishing that turd, why not work harder to think of something remarkable or important to say in the first place?


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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5 Responses to Seth Godin: But You’re Not Saying Anything

  1. Donna Sheppard says:

    As John Maxwell says: Tell people what you are going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said. In his newest book, “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, in the chapter entitled, “Connectors Do The Difficult Work of Keeping It Simple”, John gives ‘simpe steps’ for giving a ‘simple message’.

    Books and speeches that are most remembered are those that speak to the educated and uneducated with important messages understood by all. Respect is shown to the listener and audience. I think we all want to be understood and for others to understand us, so say it simple!

  2. Jim Dickeson says:

    “Polishing that turd”! Love it! That tops the classic “lipstick on a pig”!

  3. Daniel says:

    This one reminded me of a website I came across a while ago, called the “Mission Statement Generator”. It basically takes a bunch of fancy words, and comes up with an impressive-sounding but meaningless mission statement. I found a version of it here:

    If a computer can write your mission statement as well as you can… perhaps you’re not trying hard enough?

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