October 28

The Trappings of Buzzwords

Phillip Oakley

Buzzwords are a dangerous breed of jargon to mess with. Businesses across the globe throw around words and phrases such as “Goal Digger” and “Localisation” with reckless abandon, even going as far as creating their own forms of lingo in hopes of being accredited by their colleagues. Before anyone reading goes up in arms, we’d like to assure you that we aren’t throwing stones in a glass house. We’ve used buzzwords before and will continue to do so, but only in certain situations. So we’d like to lay down a few rules when it comes to these newsjacking terms so they can retain their bandwidth.

  • If you’re trying to create a buzzword, make sure it works – Creating a buzzword with staying power takes skill and time, probably time that could be better spent on actual work. The word also needs to make sense without anyone knowing the definition. For example, face time is associated with getting a face-to-face meeting with someone and Apple used this popular term for their own benefit when they released FaceTime. This sounds a lot better than say, “flesh rendezvous”, which frankly sounds awful, awkward, and germy. If you are dead set on creating one, take your because you may be quoted in the media as coining the term, which leads us to the second point.
  • Use buzzwords only when you can back them up – “Innovation” is a popular buzzword lately, but is everyone truly innovating? If every business were truly innovating, we’d finally have those elusive flying cars. It’s easy to say you’re innovating within your industry, but make sure you have the data to back your claims. If you get called out at a press conference for being innovative without any supporting information, don’t say we didn’t warn you! If you feel like you’ve truly innovated in your space, there shouldn’t be any problem assembling the appropriate information.
  • Don’t force it – One should never force a buzzword just to use it. If you can’t figure out a buzzword fitting in with your new business strategy or product, that’s ok! Buzzwords aren’t all about mashing words together to make a new definition; you may stumble upon a word you haven’t used in awhile and get everyone using it. Examples are the words “viral” and “curator,” which mean something becoming overwhelmingly popular on the web and someone that sifts through everything on the Internet, respectively. These words caught on from someone just using the word to describe the phenomenon happening in front of them; this could be you too! If it’s buzzword worthy, it’ll come to you.

To summarize this intuitive and holistic piece of content, responsibly use buzzwords where they’re needed. Language is a beautiful thing; full of words and terms many of us haven’t heard or used before. Crack open a dictionary or thesaurus and discover alternate words for what you’re trying to say. Who knows, you may accidentally discover the next big thing in the land of buzzwords, but trust us, no one will fault you if you don’t.