HOW TO BEAT THE BULL­SHIT

MATT BAX­TER AND KATE VAN DER BORGH RE­VEAL HOW TO STRIP OUT UN­NEC­ES­SARY EM­BEL­LISH­MENT AND EX­PRESS YOUR IDEAS CLEARLY

Computer Arts - - SPECIAL REPORT -

Ac­cord­ing to Matt Bax­ter, bull­shit is en­demic – and we’re all guilty of it to some de­gree. “Bull­shit in briefs means the prob­lem isn’t clear, so it can’t be solved ac­cu­rately,” he be­gins. “Bull­shit in cre­ative work means the work risks fail­ing to con­nect with its in­tended au­di­ence. And bull­shit in our ev­ery­day work­ing lives – from emails to meet­ings – means we don’t com­mu­ni­cate our ideas clearly to one an­other.”

Along­side his sis­ter, copy­writer Kate van der Borgh – pres­i­dent of the Writ­ing for De­sign jury at 2019’s D&AD Awards – Bax­ter gave an in­sight­ful ses­sion at D&AD Fes­ti­val that ex­plored what bull­shit means ex­actly, why it hap­pens, and most im­por­tantly, how to cut it out.

Their con­clu­sion was that bull­shit is of­ten pre­ten­tious, and de­signed to give a cer­tain im­pres­sion of the speaker, rather than help­ing to ex­press what they’re say­ing. It also lacks any dis­cernible mean­ing or value: it doesn’t con­vey use­ful in­for­ma­tion or help you achieve a task. Fi­nally, it isn’t con­cerned with show­ing re­al­ity ac­cu­rately.

With this in mind, the duo ex­plain, clas­sic man­i­fes­ta­tions of bull­shit in­clude the fol­low­ing: “Us­ing big words to sound clever; talk­ing in the ab­stract and re­fus­ing to get real; and not car­ing about re­al­ity.”

So ex­actly how do you beat the bull­shit? Sim­ple: just do the op­po­site. “Use real ev­ery­day lan­guage, not ar­ti­fi­cial busi­ness speak. Make big ideas real, by talk­ing about peo­ple and ac­tion. And be hon­est. Re­ally, re­ally hon­est,” they con­clude.

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