On Buzzwords

How Not to Use Buzzwords

Okay gang,

Let’s recalibrate our expectations and get proactive. We have to break through the clutter and move forward, and try to leverage  our core competencies to empower our team to a new event horizon. We can close the loop by using a holistic approach to create a new framework for innovation and out-of-box iterations. Scalability is key! The more granular we are, the closer we get to next-generation breakthroughs and holistic solutions. This is our new touchpoint. It is mission critical.

If anyone has any suggestions for future value-adds, shoot me an email!

Remember – think hyperlocal, act global!

Shooting for the stars,
Your irritating co worker

How Not to Use Buzzwords

Okay, sorry for putting you through this. But this recent article on the current US government quagmire got me thinking about the situation so many of us professional communicators are in.

The Time article is all about learning the words you need to be conversant in a particular area – in this case, the vicissitudes and variations of the government shut down. But it is interesting to note that nowadays you can write an article about the buzzwords a person needs to know in order to understand what is going on. It might be more interesting to note that such an article is even necessary.

Buzzwords take a beating in the blogosphere, and I think many people would argue that the beating is fairly earned.  All of us have probably come across a piece of internal or external communication that was riddled with them.  Not so bad as my example, probably, but still: we all know what it is like to find an infuriatingly overloaded piece of ad-copy or marketing collateral that reads like the words were just picked out of a hat.

There are lists and blogs galore that chronicle the most overused buzzwords in various industries, and sure, they are good for a laugh.  “Sheesh,” we say to ourselves, “Enough with the buzzwords!”  We can walk away feeling a little superior because hey, at least we never tried to shoehorn the phrase “Eating your own dog food” into our last company meeting.

I’ve written before about how communication in the business space can be a challenge to navigate, especially in the world of tech savvy entrepreneurs.  I’ve even cracked a joke or two about it. But I’m probably as guilty as anyone else for over salting my prose with buzzwords – either because I can’t think of anything else to say, or because I really think the word fits.

It is the second case is the most interesting to me, and the reason I wrote this blog.  What do you do when the best word or phrase to describe something is a word or phrase that you don’t like?  What do you do when you feel silly calling your product “disruptive” even though you really think it is?

I think the answer to this – as do the answers to most questions about communication – lies in the principle of sincerity. When Elon Musk writes about the Hyperloop, you get the sense that he knows what he’s talking about, that he’s enthusiastic, that he believes he is talking about a worthwhile solution that can change lives. And you’ll notice a conspicuous lack of buzzwords in his marketing materials.  He’s just writing, one guy talking to the whole world. It is his sincerity that seals the deal.

To use another example, look at Tesla’s information page on their supercharger. The first thing I noticed? It is easy to read. And the word “disruptive” isn’t used once.  In fact, they don’t even refer to their product as “innovative.”  Even though that’s exactly what it is!

I suppose the point of all this is remember that buzzwords are not the enemy, but they aren’t necessarily your friend either. Whenever I feel the temptation to use one in any of my writing, I use it.  And when I do my revisions, I make a conscious effort to change every one of them out with more meaningful words, phrases, or sentences. Sometimes I can’t think of anything better than the buzzword I used originally, and in that case I will leave it be.  But I do this because it keeps me mindful, and it keeps me from being lazy.

In other words, it helps me shift my paradigms and create a narrative with plenty of engaging bandwidth.


What buzzwords are you tired of hearing? Tell us in a comment below.



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