'Laser-focused' jargon popular in CEO speeches

By Rizza Sta. Ana

Sep 11, 2013 10:00 AM EDT

In a news feature by Bloomberg, the news agency observed that the term "laser-focused" has been a favorable term used by chief executives and heads all over. Data compiled by the news agency showed the term "laser-focused" was prominent in over 240 transcripts of investor events and earnings calls in 2012.

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. chief Liam McGee had loved the term that he had used it in all of six company events in the past two years. It was deduced that he used the term to imply that the 203-year old insurer would still be able to aim its targets in the eye. Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook was no exception. In a July press release on the tech giant's company earnings, he said, "We are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products."

CEO of business communication strategist Rittenhouse Rankings Inc L.J. Rittenhouse dismissed the term as more of a jargon. "What would a more candid disclosure be? 'We are focused.' What does a laser have to do with it?"

Ritterhouse was able to spot the popularity of the business jargon 10 years ago. "Laser-focused" has been lumped with expressions like "translating actionable insights into consumer-focused initiatives" and "pursuing strategic initiatives towards sustainable profitability." She said that a company study showed that CEOs who were not concise and candid about their communications perform worse.

Stanford Graduate School of Business professor David Larcker said, "(When executives) start using a lot of jargon, it makes you wonder about the believability." 

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