Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mantra overload (8)

Mantra overload – the excessive use of trendy, vague expressions – is a widespread habit among financial writers.

For example, on MarketWatch, February 9, Paul B. Farrell opened his column with this paragraph (boldface added):

Wake up investors. Are you prepared for the economic anarchy coming after a global-debt time bomb explodes? Are you thinking outside the box? Investing differently? Act now -- tomorrow will be too late.

I count five mantras in 33 words. After suffering this fusillade of mantras, the intelligent reader is likely to grumble, “Are you finished playing? Get to the point.”

A reader who endures the entire column will have suffered several times more than five mantras.

The Takeaway: If you intend to write clearly, do not mimic financial writers. With few exceptions, these writers obscure their topics with numerous mantras. Overuse of mantras hampers communication, damages your credibility, and dulls your mind. Use mantras sparingly or not at all. Keep asking yourself, “What do I really mean here?” Over time, this diligent habit will make your writing more precise and more honest.

See disclaimer.

1 comment: