3 Tips on How You Can Stop Using Meaningless Buzzwords

Don't let your office's shorthand speech get in the way of strong communication.
Contributor

Unpack an issue. Gain alignment. Boil the ocean. Find the white space. Create the tension.

Too many people in marketing and in business use the same standard sets of words to describe situations as a replacement for just speaking in real English. They rely on certain buzzwords to communicate concepts rather than explaining what they mean.

They think it makes them sound smart, but it only adds more confusion when you need clarity.

Sure, a buzzword that's used as a shortcut for what would otherwise be a long string of words can be useful. But, when people string together a long sequence of buzzwords or use them to replace what should be more explanation, they can lose all their value.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

They honestly do more to make someone sound uninformed than anything.

So, I personally avoid using too many buzzwords, and I would like to offer you some suggestions on how to avoid the buzzword trap.

1. Speak the way people actually talk.

There’s nothing better than simple conversation to overcome a buzzword. Rather than “gain alignment,” let’s “figure out how to agree.” Rather than “unpack the meeting” let’s “outline what was discussed in the meeting and come up with all the next steps.” When in doubt, it's almost always better to use something that sounds natural instead of a buzzword.

Related: Inspiring Quotes to Help You Get Through Your Work Day

2. Give more specificity.

If you just can’t help yourself and you just must rely on a buzzword or two, at least give some specificity around it. So, rather than “unpack the meeting,” let’s “unpack the meeting’s three most difficult discussions to really uncover the source of tension.” 

3. Give examples.

Again, if a buzzword is the only way you can truly express yourself in the moment, perhaps add an example to the communication so there’s no doubt about what you mean. Rather than “unpack the meeting,” let’s “unpack the meeting like we did in yesterday's meeting when we were addressing Margaret's performance.” There’s nothing clearer than an example that fits the point you are making.

You can’t eliminate buzzwords from your business vocabulary entirely, and they can be useful in establishing a shared vernacular. But, they are much more useful when used in the context of plain speak, more specificity, and clarifying examples.

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