From the September 2011 issue of Entrepreneur

Big Think, Small MovementIt's not uncommon to find me at one coffee shop or another across the country during my workday. Not only do I get caffeinated delights to accompany free Wi-Fi, I also get the benefits of people-watching and overhearing myriad conversations. And sometimes those conversations make me want to poke myself in my left eye.

Coffee shops have become the de facto conference room of the working class, which means as a frequent coffee shop patron, I'm privy to a significant amount of BS that spews from tables around me. I get to hear about overarching concepts and how something's so user-friendly that it's going to be an inarguable game-changer. It aggregates content in an innovative fashion and integrates seamlessly with existing infrastructure.

If you have no idea what any of the above means, that's OK. I don't either. In fact, no one does (even the people spewing the words). So this month, I'll ask the tough question:

Buzzspeak Words to Avoid
Paradigm shift
Engage
Overarching
Out of the box
Revolutionary
Game-changing
Synergistic
Bleeding edge
Change management
Integrated
Core competencies
Guru
Ninja
Authentic/authenticity
Drill down
Mission critical
Onboarding

Is Buzzspeak Killing Your Business?
Buzzspeak is the uncooked spaghetti of the business world: When you throw it against the refrigerator, nothing sticks. It's lazy and the epitome of monkey-see, monkey-do. Seriously--would you know an overarching idea if it bit you on the leg? The only thing that buzzspeak does for us is make us seem less intelligent than we truly are. Buzzwords are an excuse to talk around what we really mean to say, and those are the words that will close business and help us give our audience what they really wanted all along: tools that get things done.

So how do you break out of the buzzspeak bubble and start finding words that work? First, it goes back to the issue of respect. Respect your audience enough to tell it to them straight. Stop sugarcoating and dancing around the conversations that get things done.

I'll bet if you sat down with your audience and asked, "What do you need?" the answer wouldn't be, "A bunch of words that sound awesome!" The answer would probably sound something like this: "I need you to fix my problem."

Once you understand that the reason we all have careers is because other people's problems need fixing, the next step is to get to fixing those problems. Here are four tips for closing your mouth, thus denying the buzzwords bandwidth, and opening it in the pursuit of problem solving (the heart of entrepreneurship).

  • Simplicity: If you want your audience to buy in to what you're putting on the table for sale, don't make them learn a new language. Simplicity goes a long way, because when people feel they're not smart enough to understand your solutions, they feel they're not smart enough to do business with you.
  • Brilliance: If what you're offering can make your client look brilliant to the people who matter most, that's a huge selling point. You're not the brilliant one for bringing them the solution--they are the brilliant one for bringing your solution to the table. Take a moment to understand how your solutions make your client shine to his or her audience.
  • Time: It's the mother of all sins-- wasting someone's time. Great solutions don't integrate or aggregate. They save time. While not every solution saves time, the fact that it might is a fair share more significant than any sort of crap vocabulary you could throw into the mix.
  • Usability: If it takes a village to learn, it's probably not the best solution. Respect your audience by offering easy-to-use solutions that make sense for how they operate. Asking them to change their day-to-day routine won't get you the yeses you crave.

Our job is to lend value. We don't get points for using big words--we get points for results. The best solutions never need dressing up with words, they just need a team who can effectively communicate their worth and put them into action.