Buzzwords are infectious, like a disease. Use them in a conversation with some of your co-workers, and they'll be more likely to start using them in their own conversations. And like a disease, they have no real purpose or significance other than to make something worse--in this case, communication.
Buzzwords are buzzwords not because they're popular, but because they've grown to be so overused that their original intended meaning has decayed. They serve as mindless filler words where meaning used to be, and if used with reckless abandon, they can sabotage any hope you had of preserving a productive conversation--especially in an office setting.
When you schedule your next meeting, be sure to banish these 10 overused buzzwords--I guarantee you'll lose no value:
1. Low-hanging fruit.
In theory, this phrase is a colorful way to describe easy-to-get opportunities. The problem is, it's now being used to describe any opportunities. To make things worse, the metaphor isn't perfect--just because a fruit hangs low doesn't mean it's ripe or even the type of fruit you wanted in the first place.
2. 20,000-foot view.
There's nothing wrong with taking a step back from the minutiae and trying to describe a problem in a broader context. The problem is applying this phrase to topics that have already been defined. Describe your directions generally before getting into the details, and this phrase should theoretically never make an appearance.
3. Game changer.
There really are "game changing" ideas that occasionally force an industry to evolve, but they're few and far between. Chances are, you're applying this term to something that isn't one. "Disruptive" is another buzzword with a similar context that gets an honorable mention here.
Deliverable is a vague word that can apply to the completion of a task, the creation of an item, or really any tangible item or action that can be taken. Lumping them all together as "deliverables" is a sure way to confuse your audience with ambiguity. Use a few extra words to be specific.
5. Back burner.
In theory, the "back burner" refers to items that you consider but don't take action on. In practice, the "back burner" is an infinite purgatory where good intentions go to die. Instead of telling someone to put something on the back burner, either dismiss the idea or let them know exactly when you expect it to be relevant again.
6. Circle back.
"Circle back" is a catch-all phrase that suggests that, at some point, everyone currently meeting will meet again. It doesn't explain why you're going to meet, how you're going to meet, who exactly is going to meet, or what you're going to do when you get there. Clarify your intentions.
7. Hit the ground running.
People generally use this phrase when they want others to begin work immediately. However, this wordy phrase implies that the others are being dropped from a point of high velocity. It also doesn't define the effort that will need to be taken.
"Optimize" is another one of those catch-all terms that doesn't mean anything by itself. Instead of saying "optimize," use specific action words like "redesign" or "edit."
9. Reach out.
"Reach out" can mean just about anything. Saying you'll reach out to a client implies that you'll use some form of communication to get his or her attention. It doesn't necessitate a query, or conversation, or even a time in which you'll make the connection. Be specific.
10. Touch base.
Touching base is much like circling back; it implies some kind of future connection, but doesn't set any expectations about when that connection will happen, or what you'll do when it finally comes up. Give people a reasonable idea of your intentions and expectations. Otherwise, you'll touch base and have nothing to talk about.
Once free from these 10 buzzwords, your meeting is all but guaranteed to be more productive. Use the most concise, accurate, appropriate words you can to describe your intentions and convey meaning to your peers. Resorting to buzzwords is easy, and we're all guilty of it, but it's also lazy. Strive to be a more effective communicator, and the people around you will follow.