Abandon All Fear

What nobody else seems to be saying…

Filler Words, Buzz-Words and Emotional Appeals

Posted by Lex Fear on December 11, 2005

Lake Superior State University have posted a list of suggested words of 2005 to banish. Mostly referring to American politics, however, I would like to add some of my own.

Something about buzzwords is more annoying to me than scraping fingernails down a chalk-board. My church, always eager to keep up with the corporate world always manages to come up with new ones. It makes me shudder every time I hear a new buzzword, often repeatedly used in the same service.

Take for example one word which they discovered and began implementing a few months ago- “connect”. Used in such cases as, “If you’re a new visitor here, we’d love to ‘connect’ with you” and “We’re just gonna take 2 minutes here, why don’t you get up out of your seat and go and ‘connect’ with someone you don’t know”. Urrrgh. My skin crawls. What’s wrong with the words meet, or greet? ‘Connect’ gives me a picture in my mind of people walking around with a large USB wire sticking out of them, plugging into each other.

Another favourite used by one of our small group leaders is “Download”. As in “I can see you’re having some trouble trying to ‘download’ that” meaning “I can see your having trouble trying to understand that”.. It’s like a new version buzzword replacing the older version buzzword – ‘process’ which wasn’t half as bad. An online resource of buzzwords can be found here.

The only thing that irritates me half as much is the proliferate use of filler words, easier to forgive but just as irritating. I don’t mind filler words if the speaker is genuine, it’s those who are imitators in their preaching styles, they are trying to sound like some well-known preacher who genuinely uses the same fillers. I wish I was making this up but I’m not. Take for example “I just wanna”. The amount of times you will hear “I just wanna”, especially during an evening preaching to the youth group would make you ‘just wanna’ rip off your ears! It’s usually used in a condescending fashion “…And I just wanna say…”, “…I just wanna tell you…” and can be combined to form “…And I just wanna say that what I just wanna tell you is…”. Just bloody tell us then.

One thing that I now really find patronizing, is those musically enhanced emotional appeals at the end of services. At one stage it was every bloody week, no matter what the sermon was about, even if they weren’t giving an appeal at all. It was choreographed perfectly. The preacher will be reaching the end, a gentle nod to the lead musician. As they continue speaking, suddenly slow piano or guitar music will begin to play, the speaker gives his well timed and emotionally charged appeal. It was different and pleasant when they first started doing it years ago. But now it’s just really annoying and absolutely devoid and empty of any real feeling. If people need to respond, they’ll respond, we don’t need the assistance of a few notes from “Relaxing Moods CD Volume 2” to make our life-changing decision. Lately it seems that the church has decided ditch this part of the appeal, in the last couple of months I’ve noticed speakers giving there appeal or finishing off their sermon without any musical accompaniment. It’s much better and much more respectful of people’s intelligence. I hope I’m not speaking too soon.

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