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August 25, 2017

This is why corporate buzzwords need to die

'Going forward,' let's 'punt' this jargon; it's 'best practices' and 'skill sets' are not helping us 'think outside the box'

Happy Monday!

Welcome to your first day at ABC Corporation. We are honored and humbled by your decision to join our team.

Before diving into the weeds, let’s level set and take a look at ABC Corp from 30,000 feet. At ABC Corporation, we believe there is no “I” in team. We believe we are part of a paradigm shift, and our aim every day is to move the needle.

Before we circle back, lets put a pin in this topic and forge ahead and move forward. #ABCCorpRules

As part of your on-boarding, you will learn everything you need to know to proactively be a value-add. Okay? So, at the end of the day, here’s what it means. We will stay out of silos. We won’t boil the ocean, looking instead for blue ocean strategies. Now, before I disappear and go out of pocket, lets talk about another topic today...


If you have attended a meeting, ever, you have encountered “buzzwords” or “buzz-phrases.” It’s that simple. I would venture to guess that if you have attended a meeting, ever, you have probably used them. I certainly fall into that category. Many of us have "go-to" phrases that we may not even realize we regularly use.

Are buzzwords effective? Do audiences enjoy hearing them?

In a very unscientific poll done for this article – both in person and on social media, this topic evoked a visceral reaction from almost every person. There was no shortage of “most annoying buzzwords.”

Aside from being annoying, what is the damage from using buzzwords or buzz-phrases? What harm can the use of these phrases do?

Quite a bit of members of your audience don’t understand them. We are living in a time when messaging comes at each of us at a speed that makes it impossible to digest, which means important information may be lost when a message is filled with jargon, acronyms and buzzwords, especially if your audience doesn’t understand them.

Let’s say that an audience, whether a small meeting or a full auditorium, actually does understand what you’re trying to say. If an audience is focused on a buzzword or phrase, it becomes harder to focus on the message. That doesn’t help the effective delivery of that message.

So what can replace buzzwords? The answer, and best alternatives, are stories, examples and commonly understood analogies.

While buzzwords don’t necessarily help audience members relate to and understand information, examples, stories and analogies often do. And helping audiences relate to the information being presented is a key responsibility of a presenter.

Standard language is also key.

Most of the most memorable orations and presentations contain standard language (for the time period they took place) and have stood the test of time. President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contains 272 words, of which 200+ contain a single syllable. No buzzwords.

For instance, most people don’t say “I am going to retire for a number of hours to recharge my internal and external facilities to better engage with the day tomorrow.” Most people say, “I am going to bed.” Standard language allows an audience to focus on a message rather than try to understand what a word or phrase means.

Explore using alternatives to buzzwords; it will make for more effective, impactful communication.

Matt Eventoff is the founder of The Oratory Project. The Oratory Project (T.O.P.) is a mission-based service focused on delivering customized, proprietary workshops to enhance the communication skills of "at-risk" young adults in order to empower them, help them gain confidence and help them grow professionally.