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How to Break Out of the Business Buzzword Bubble

September 12, 2011

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
Out of the box
Bleeding edge
Change management
Core competencies
Drill down
Mission critical

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).

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.