Getting the Buzzwords OUT of Your Business

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If you've spent any time in an office, or any time watching The Office, you've been inundated with business jargon, whether in the form of acronyms, buzzwords, or other over-used slang.

Bosses seem especially prone to using hyper-inflated, nearly meaningless words. And we all see through it.

I remember when I started seeing the phrase "circle back" popping up in my inbox. I scorned it at first...but before too long I caught myself typing out the same phrase when I was, well, circling back with colleagues. 

Ouch.

Why do we all do this? We know better, but slip into using the language we see around us.

Whether it's because we're trying to climb the career ladder and get into the boss' good graces. Or less consciously, just picking up the lazy habits of our peers.

The truth is, you don't have to cut all the buzzwords out of your vocabulary.

Yes, you heard that right - I'm giving you permission to circle back and strategize a collaborative approach to moving the needle. But... maybe not all in one sentence ok?

Here are a couple times jargon is A-Ok:

  • When you're using the most commonly accepted terms with an audience of professional peers

If you're all architecting deals together, then sure architect away. Our first goal in writing is always to be clear. So if your peers won't get what you're saying without a few industry-jargon words, feel free to plug-them in and make it easy on your audience.

  • When you're using your own personal catch phrases

I'll touch on this more later, but using slang phrases can actually help you build your own unique brand voice...as long as you're not just mimicking the language you see everyone else using. 

If you're reading this and wishing you could cut down on the buzzwords, but you’re not sure how, try these tips:

Write as if you were speaking to a friend

When you sit down to write any copy, marketing piece, or communications for your business, imagine that your just typing up a quick, informal email to a close friend. You're simply updating her on your life, telling him about your latest business venture, offering a few words of encouragement, empathy, or free advice. After all, when you meet up with a friend over coffee and end up talking about work, you're probably not using phrases like "utilization rates", "strategic narrative approach", or "generosity touch point"... unless you are... and that would just be sad.

Embrace your own catchphrases 

What are the phrases you're known for? When your siblings do an impression of you, what words do they use? Incorporate those same words and phrases into your business writing. After all, customers like doing business withe people - not companies. Embrace the power of a personality-driven business, and let your personality shine. 

Edit your writing for clarity

After you've written your copy, don't skip the editing step. Skim through your text with your clarity goggles on. Is anything fuzzy? Overly complicated? If so, stop and fix it! Take out extra words. Replace esoteric words with easily understood words. Simplify your sentence structures. 

Read your writing aloud

The ultimate test: how does your written text sound when you read it out loud? Does it sound like a corporate quarterly earnings report? No good! Humanize it. Does it sound like a political candidate's press release? Boo! Bring it back down to earth. Does it sound like a car salesman? You can do better - remember to write as if to a friend. 

There you have it! My take on the jargon. I know we hate but use anyway... but let's face it  - it's usually cause we're lazy and don't want to take the time to write smart, clear copy.

But if you want to connect with your audience, consider cutting back on the buzzwords. Your readers will thank you.