6 tactics for cutting jargon from quotes in interviews

Here’s how to make sure you get the inside story straight from the horse’s mouth—and not from the other end.

Let’s say you’re a writer working for a company that deals in pet supplies: cat toys, geckos, gerbil cages, dog chow.

An outsider might suppose a place of such concretes would be immune to the jargon and CEO-speak that lard the newsletters and websites of corporate America.

Think again. The battle to elicit good quotes from executives and workers alike is waged at companies everywhere. Whether in press releases or employee-of-the-month profiles, quotes will actually undermine your message if they bear no resemblance to human conversation.

“I don’t think it’s industry-specific,” says Loren Yaskin, former manager of internal communications at PetSmart. “It’s just an innate part of corporate-speak.”

Yaskin, now president of Flip Side Communications, says one of her responsibilities at PetSmart was to get plain-spoken quotes or craft natural-sounding speeches. Without diligence, she says, an executive might end up sounding like this:

“My takeaway is that this low-hanging fruit will incentivize our organization to close the loop on this mission-critical challenge we’ve been facing.”

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