Philip Collins

Leadership requires clarity of thought, speech and writing. But all too often business executives fall into the trap of using (and overusing) corporate buzzwords – ‘deep dive’, ‘move the needle’, ‘outside the box’ – and filling their emails and documents with obfuscating jargon.

Former speechwriter to Tony Blair, Philip Collins argues that ‘business is a simple enterprise made complex by people who do it badly’. His new book, To Be Clear: A Style Guide for Business Writing, is a call to arms, urging businesses to stop using the language of nonsense and start communicating with clarity, simplicity and meaning. 

In this episode of the No Bullsh*t Leadership podcast, hosted by CEO of Havas Creative Chris Hirst, we explored how business writing has changed over time, how business executives can practically cut through the bullsh*t that has become orthodox, and how we can all wield language to become better leaders. 

If you enjoyed this podcast please let us know what you think by rating and reviewing No Bullsh*t Leadership on Apple Podcasts. For updates on the series follow @intelligence2 and @chrishirst on Twitter. 

Producer & Editor: Bella Soames;
Technical Support: Mark Roberts. 

Chris Hirst is author of the award-winning book No Bulls*ht Leadership: Why the World Needs More Everyday Leaders and Why That Leader Is You. 


00:00 Intro 

01:30 Best communicator you have seen in-person 

01:40 The best piece of advice you’ve been given 

01:59 One piece of advice to write more clearly 

05:08 Influence of the King James Bible on your love of writing  

07:07 What has united all the different jobs you have done? 

08:59 The process of writing for somebody else 

12:01 Why did you write the book now?  

15:36 The dangers of using jargon 

16:42 The link between clarity of thought and clarity of communication

18:17 Being unclear on purpose can be useful 

19:45 Why the term ‘frontline workers’ is unhelpful 

20:44 Similarities between poor communication in business and in politics 

22:22 Why every business has an interest in speaking clearly to the public 

23:24 Do the same principles of effective communication apply today? 

25:54 Why people are frightened to be clear 

26:37 Who are the most effective communicators today? 

28:59 Why Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are good political communicators 

31:10 Your next job 

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