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Swordplay Stakes Out Jargon, Champions Great Writing

Posted by: Amy Edel-Vaughn on May 17, 2013

Mary Hirsch wrote, “Humor is a rubber sword – it allows you to make a point without drawing blood.” With pins shaped like swords, Interbrand London cut out jargon, celebrated rapier wit and proved excellent at swordplay.

The Verbal Identity team creates workshops for clients with expertise and passion, but found it had been some time since they’d directed that love of language to building a workshop for themselves. As the Swordplay event took shape, in an anti-silo, breaking down barriers of specialty move, the team opened the invitation to participate to the whole of Interbrand London.

Bringing in favorite pieces of writing from song lyrics to poems and comics to famous quotes, participants shared what resonated with them and the words that get stuck in their heads. Playing with words in words, such as lust in lackluster or rue in accrue, rewriting film dialogue and thinking about how very little changes can have big impact on meaning, the Swordplayers enjoyed the fun of language and felt the power of each word choice we make.

Swordplayers at work

Laura Tarbox, Strategy Consultant, said, “Like a ‘Magic Eye’ of language, the Swordplay workshop gave me a new perspective on life, ideas and language, revealing and bringing into focus the hidden heart of words like a true love that’s been right under your nose all along.” Lesley Stuart-Jones, Client Manager adds, “Insightful and inspiring – fun too!! We should do more sessions like this!”

Looking at paragraphs of business jargon, Sworplayers discussed how challenging jargon makes what could be simple copy to understand and its stark lack of joyous words. Taking sword pens in hand, it was time to stake out the jargon. Rewriting the copy it was clear that a few words could easily replace a paragraph of jargon, serving as a powerful reminder of the traps all writers should avoid.

Cat Totty, Senior Consultant Writer, shared that the conversations sparked interesting questions on a business level. To the question “If clients speak formally, do we need to mirror?” Totty stresses authenticity and advises, “Don’t be a chameleon. Be your professional self.”

Fun with words

Plans are in the works for more innovative Swordplay workshops at Interbrand London, and to explore different practice areas. Sandy Jones, Client Management Intern commented, “I found it was a really creative concept, and very well planned from top to bottom. It was obviously really well prepared, especially when we were presented with words we chose at the end of the session, that was a really good touch.”

“I found it especially beneficial to analyse the ‘jargon’ ridden text examples, and identify what is truly necessary when speaking with clients or other members of staff,” Jones says. “We tend to use 20 words when 10 will do, and changing that attitude would go a long way to making work-related communication more relevant. I think everyone was really open to the concept of the exercise because it was really enjoyable but perhaps most importantly inspiring.”

Joanna Jenkins, Senior Client Director, agrees, “Really got the creative verbal juices flowing. And forces the mind to look at words differently to get the most from them. Great hosts too!” Michael Quirke, Consultant Writer, concludes, “Beautifully simple and, later, even life-affirming – really enjoyed it.”

For the full Swordplay workshop photo album, please visit us on Facebook.

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