We've all been there. You're at a meeting and one of your co-workers says, "At the end of the day, we've got to give 110% and think outside the box. We've got skin in the game on this one and if we aren't shovel ready, that 800 pound gorilla in our backyard will steal this account." If you're adept at deciphering business jargon, you can infer that your colleague is expressing a desire for creativity and preparedness on a project in which much has been invested in order to keep your organization's biggest competitor at bay. Unfortunately, using buzzwords like "shovel-ready" and "think outside the box" can often alienate and confuse even the most savvy members of a business audience.
Although sometimes effective when used in appropriate settings, keep these 3 caveats to using buzzwords in mind the next time you have an important message to communicate:
- May cause offense to some people. For example, referring to someone as a rock star, wizard, god or guru when he or she has excelled professionally may offend some listeners. It's better to use plain language than risk offending your audience.
- Can create miscommunication. If you want to make sure you are understood, presenting information in a clean and clear format is the best option.
- Meanings may vary. Buzzwords can take on different connotations depending on when and where they are used. What means one thing to this audience, may mean something very different to that audience.