One week ago, the globe celebrated one of the most important annual events of our times – “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”. For those who are unaware, this is an idea that went viral back in 2002 when Dave Barry mentioned the activities of a small group of pirate talkers. From that humble beginning was brought forth the international phenomenon of spending one day going “Avast” and “Ahoy” and “Ayyy, matey” and “Shiver me timbers” and talking rum and parrots and dead men’s’ chests while sounding like there is a hunk of sea water stuck in your throat.
Which leads to my suggestion; it is time for auditors to coopt the concept. We want to increase the profession’s global visibility? What better way than “International Talk Like an Auditor Day.”
It’s not as difficult as it might seem. First, you have to get the voice right. Remember, you want every sentence to come out as a dull, flat monotone that is as plain as possible. Think Ben Stein without the personality. The only time you should show any excitement is if someone talks about risk or controls. And you should go almost apoplectic if they bring up ERM, GRC, or the red book.
Next, have handy a list of standard audit phrases to be used in every situation. No matter what the subject of the conversation, no matter how incongruous a phrase may seem, break out your favorite audit words and sprinkle them liberally throughout every sentence. Words like “testing” and “observation” and “needs improvement” should jump from your lips without a moment’s thought.
Finally, look for those conversations where auditese fits naturally. You don’t believe such conversations exist? Following are some examples of everyday conversations that are greatly improved by talking like an auditor.
Teacher: What happened in 1776?
Student: Controls were inadequate.
Officer: You were doing 50 in a 35 zone.
Driver: I was trying to improve my utilization
Cashier: Will that be all?
Grocery Store: I’m sorry. Three of the four people in line in front of me had an average of 13.6 items in their baskets and this lane is clearly labeled “12 items or less”. This is going to result in an ineffective opinion.
Boss: How many times am I going to have to watch you come into work late?
Employee: That depends, would you consider this continuous monitoring or continuous auditing?
Boy: The background for this evening is that we first met two weeks ago and determined a date would be the next logical step. The purpose is to obtain sustenance and gain additional knowledge about each other. The scope includes appetizers, an entrée, and desert.
Girl: I believe I’ve formed an opinion
Child 1: Tag. You’re it!!
Child 2: I do not believe you have a sufficient sample size to support that contention.
Driver 1: My observation is that you have increased the risk of our having an accident by cutting me off.
Driver 2: Mitigate this!
Spouse 1: I noticed that dinner was late tonight. However, we continue to maintain a 90% success rate in meeting these milestones and there will be no need to raise this issue to the board.
Spouse 2: Based on your assessment, it does not appear there are available hours for any value-added activities the rest of the evening.
And, if all else fails, no matter what the question or comment, you can fall back on the classic auditor phrases “We will cover that in the wrap up meeting”, “I don’t do original work”, and “We’re here to help you”.
At the end of it all, remember that “International Talk Like an Auditor Day” is all about having fun. Just don’t have too much fun; we would hate to jeopardize our independence and objectivity.