Robust, Actionable Results! How to Use Buzzwords To Your Advantage?
Buzzwords have been a staple of professional life for decades. Even today, countless business people promote ‘best practices,’ ‘touch base’ with colleagues, and ‘enhance visibility.’ For one reason or another, hollow phrases like these have spread like wildfire in offices worldwide, it’s almost as if they have become part of management training! It’s easy to see why buzzwords have stuck around: they allow you to appear to say something when you’re really saying nothing.
Take this example: We proactively pre-plan across verticals.
This sentence is trying to say: “We plan to suit our target markets.” However, it’s completely convoluted and full of dead air. You can’t “pre-plan,” and you’re already proactive if you’re planning. “Verticals” sounds fancy, but it tries too hard. “Target markets” sounds much better and is clearer.
Here’s another example: Our best-of-breed software provides robust, scalable solutions.
Of course, this is saying: “Our software can sustain a large workload.” But again, there are too many empty words here. “Best-of-breed?” Are we talking about corgis here? “Robust” is one of the most insidious buzzwords and is as ambiguous as the word “thing.” And “scalable” is an abstract term that refers to the concept of a software’s ability to handle a large workload. There’s no real scaling going on there. With all that said, you might be ready to completely abandon buzzwords. You shouldn’t. The trick isn’t to avoid buzzwords––it’s to use them when they’re actually saying something.
Say you’re an SEO copywriter. You want to get your clients’ sites noticed on search engines, thereby increasing the number of page views they receive. That is truly “enhancing visibility.” You’re making the sites more visible on search engines. By saying you’ll enhance visibility, you’re directly describing your service.
Or maybe you build websites and want to make sure the client is updated regularly. This is a good time to use the otherwise vague word “transparent.” By saying your work process is transparent, you’re letting the client know that they’ll be able to see results on a regular basis. This could increase their chances of using your services, because you’ll sound more trustworthy.
And that brings me to my last point: Never use buzzwords to sound better than you actually are. If you’re disorganized, don’t promise “expedited delivery.” If you’re a part-timer, don’t say you’re “available around the clock.” You get the idea. Don’t say it unless you mean it. (Or, don’t type/post/share it unless you mean it.)
Now it’s time to take the Buzzword Pledge: I will not say something unless I mean it. Be honest, be accurate, and don’t promise on what you can’t deliver.
I’ll end this post with some classic advice. In The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. advises to omit unnecessary words. Avoiding hollow buzzwords will reduce the number of unnecessary words to a minimum. Say what you mean and nothing more, and your content will flourish.