The Hidden Danger of Buzz Words and Empty Phrases 

The first and foremost goal or communication is to convey an idea, and only then impress. However, often times the communicator gets the two confused. These people are so focused on impressing the reader (or listener) their words fail to effectively express what they were set up to communicate.

A few weeks ago, in a meeting with a potential client, the COO was focused on impressing the CEO who was present, said the following:

“As an industry leader, we are going to exploit opportunities to drive results by leveraging tactical strategies and offer win-win solutions. Analytics show that bandwidth limited KPIs and prevented us from going to the next level. We will start eating our own dogfood, drill down, and apply best practices and best of breed out of the box game changers to stimulate organic growth.”

Sadly, the conversation that ensued, made it clear that the COO didn’t really know the true meaning of half the phrases he used.

Don’t get me wrong, using jargon is necessary and makes it easy to communicate with those who understand them… but we have to be careful. Buzzwords should be used sparingly and correctly. Overusing buzzwords puts too much ‘noise’ in communication and divert attention from what’s really important.

Another danger to watch for is using inaccurate phrases – In the example above, the COO used ‘tactical strategies’… there is no such thing. Using the wrong term not only fails to communicate your point, it might also give the wrong impression about you or your intelligence.

Use simple sentences and clear words that everyone understands. Focus less on impressing your audience and more about the impact you want your idea to have.

I compiled a short list of overused business and marketing buzzwords you may want to think twice about before using them.

Duke Merhavy, MBA, Ph.D.
President & Chief Marketing Officer

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Think Twice Before Using

The following is a list of overused (and some inaccurate) business and marketing buzzwords – Use them sparingly:

  • 30,000-foot view
  • 800-pound gorilla
  • Bandwidth
  • Best of breed
  • Best practices
  • Big boy pants
  • Big data
  • Bleeding edge
  • Blogosphere
  • Change agent
  • Consumer-driven
  • Coopetition
  • Drink the Kool-Aid
  • Eat the dogfood
  • Game changer
  • Guru
  • Heavy lifting
  • Hit the ground running
  • Industry leader
  • Leverage
  • Literally
  • Low-hanging fruit
  • Mission-critical
  • Organic growth
  • Outside the box
  • Paradigm shift
  • Pivot
  • Rockstar
  • Scalable
  • Strategic
  • Tactical strategies
  • Thought leader
  • Viral
  • Visionary
  • Wheelhouse
  • Win-win

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