I hate buzzwords.
There, I said it.
In an industry that has such a breakneck pace of advancement, a constant stream of new buzzwords is inevitable. So, imagine my delight when I read a newly released style guide produced by the Government for its online presence: it has a whole section on buzzwords and phrases that serve no purpose other than to confuse a situation, and their use is prohibited in governmental communication. I think this is a real step forward, and the private sector could do with taking note.
I appreciate that, in general, this kind of thing probably wouldn’t interest the average tech blog reader, but I just can’t help myself from creating my own “top ten buzzwords I hate” list. So, without further ado, here is my Top Ten Buzzwords I Hate list:
- Blue sky thinking – WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?
- Synergy – Why can’t we just say cooperation?
- Guru – Makes me think of ayahuasca smoking tribespeople, how about “expert”?
- Touch base – Eugh, we’re not in a changing room: what's wrong with “contact”/”email”/”call”/”speak to” etc.?
- Empower – Just makes me feel condescended, how about allow or permit?
- Going forward – This makes my blood boil, I will not even offer an alternative.
- Big Data – Unless you are Facebook, Google or Amazon, this does not apply to you. Next!
- “Thing” 2.0 – Web 2.0 is “normal” now; anything 2.0 is normal, stop saying 2.0.
- Ephemeral – I don’t even know how this found its way into the tech buzzword world, but it did.
- Best of breed – This is not a dog show. There are no huskies. Or treats. Please stop.
This is by no means an exhaustive list (I would get too ragey), but it’s a nice start. Quite a lot of this kind of communication grinds my gears (I think that’s because I’m a techie). In fact, even overhearing some of our marketing department discussing things can wind me up* – sorry guys!
If you happen to share my hatred of buzzwords, then you can actively fight against it by playing ‘Buzzword Bingo’ in your meetings.
- Everyone gets a blank grid of nine squares and has to write in the buzzwords and phrases they think are most likely to come up (provide a crib sheet of examples if needed!).
- You can enter the same word/phrase in more than one box, but you can only cross one out per instance it’s spoken or shown.
- Whenever anyone else says (or displays, for example in a presentation), one of your words or phrases, cross it out.
- Whoever gets a line first wins (if someone gets a full house, you might want to consider a career move).
This works especially well for conference calls as there’s no way to cheat, and it’s even funnier. You’re welcome.
And this leads me nicely onto asking you guys what’s the worst buzzword or buzzphrase you’ve ever heard? Drop me a comment below and we can commiserate together.
* Though it is refreshing to work for a company that encourages us to write for its blog, but has the integrity to let me publicly mock it 🙂