There are certain words you hear time and time again in a professional setting. In fact, you hear them so often that they've practically lost all meaning.
These buzzwords seem to be especially apparent in the world of marketing and advertising. So, The Creative Group took it upon themselves to find out just what words creative professionals are tired of hearing in the office.
The Creative Group worked with an independent research firm to conduct 400 telephone interviews with advertising and marketing executives based in the United States.
Of the 400 participants, 200 were randomly selected marketing executives from companies with over 100 employees. The other 200 were randomly chosen advertising executives from agencies with over 20 employees.
All participants were asked the same open-ended question: In your opinion, what is the most annoying or overused buzzword in the creative/marketing industry today?
As suspected, there were numerous different words that people cited as obnoxious. And, although the survey was directed at the creative industry, most of the buzzwords aren't industry-specific.
The most commonly cited responses from their research included:
- "Out of pocket."
- "Ideation. What a stupid word!"
- "Out of the box."
- "Our signals were crossed. Coworkers say this instead of admitting they misunderstood."
- "Moving forward."
- "Amazing. It's the most overused word in our industry -- and society -- today."
- "Good to go. My colleagues say this all day."
- "It is what it is."
- "Take it to the next level."
- "Let's take this off line."
- "Branding. An overused word to the point that it's now meaningless."
- "Cutting edge."
Other responses included catchy phrases like "all hands on deck", "in the trenches", and "low-hanging fruit".
How to Avoid Buzzwords at Work
Of course, it's tough to eliminate all buzzwords from your work vocabulary. When you've grown so used to hearing and saying them, one or two are bound to slip in every now and then.
However, there are a few tips and strategies you can use to focus on getting your point across in a way that's clear and effective -- rather than littered with jargon and flashy phrases.
1. Focus on Substance
How you say things is important. But, it's always what you're saying -- the meat of your message -- that reigns supreme.
Many of us work buzzwords in our sentences to sound in-the-know and make our communication more stylish. However, it's always better to focus on the actual substance and content.
So, rather than thinking about how you can make things sound as attention-grabbing, impressive, or lingo-laden as possible, ask yourself how you can present this message in a way that's completely clear. Starting with that thought alone will help you trim out those buzzwords and get to the point.
2. Keep Things Simple
Getting signals crossed in the office (did you catch the overused phrase right there?) is usually a result of people not keeping communication simple enough.
Related to the point above, you'll save you and your team a lot of confusion and headaches if you just cut out the flowery language and say what you mean.
For example, don't say that a certain project won't "move the needle". Simply state that you don't believe it will make an impact. Or, skip that low-hanging fruit buzzword and just say, "Let's start with something easy."
You'll get your point across in a way that's concise and direct -- no trendy catchphrases required.
3. Enlist Help
Did you read through the list of buzzwords and think to yourself, "I say so many of these all of the time!"? Don't worry -- you're not alone.
If you're someone who's guilty of weaving these overused words into nearly every sentence and you're eager to stop, go ahead and ask your team to act as your reminder.
Pick a few words that you use the most, and share them with your team. Then, when they catch you relying on yet another cringe-worthy phrase or buzzword, they can do something simple in response -- like ask for clarification or point out what word you used.
Before long, those quick reminders will help you kick those buzzwords to the curb. And, as an added bonus, this easy exercise will likely inspire your entire team to be more intentional with the way they communicate.
Yes, buzzwords will still creep their way into your vocabulary -- they're practically inevitable. But, you don't want your sentences to become so weighed down by jargon and catchy phrases that you become impossible to understand.
Keep an eye on these common words, use these tips, and you'll be communicating clearly and concisely in no time.