7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

We all have come across those winners in meetings that love to use the latest business buzzword. You know the ones? They recite words and phrases you know they just heard for the first time while watching the Dragon’s Den last night.

You realize soon after school that the vocabulary you use has very little to do with your life and is more so correlated with pretentiousness. Yet the words below are used everyday, some times more than once, in offices and during meetings all over the world in hundreds of different languages. Well I’m sure other languages have their own overused meaningless terms that tend to follow the commerce crowd.

Before you start remember these are just opinions, please don’t be offended. Instead add your own overused word or phrase. Heck lets make this list longer!! Comment below with yours!!

Let's form proactive synergy restructuring teams

1. Synergy

The obvious one. Just stop it. Nothing says I’m a first year business student than using Synergy on purpose in a sentence. The exception to the rule you say? There is only one. Unless you work in the Easton Hockey stick Museum and you’re referring to my gold 2001 Easton Synergy Hockey stick you should never ever use the “S” word in a sentence.


2. Networking

Just a fancy term for people who don’t know how to make friends. Pro tip, stop networking and start doing things that matter. Volunteer, run for a board, help a non-profit, coach, be a big brother, do something that isn’t easy. Just showing up to an event and putting on a name tag isn’t hard. Volunteering countless hours for a great cause is a brilliant way to make new friends.

Do ANYTHING other then go to specific events just to “meet” people for the sake of a business relationship. Yuck.

3. Awareness

It doesn’t exist. 20 years ago you could get to a mass audience easily and for a reasonable price. Now, you can barely get to a quarter of your own Facebook page, let alone mass amounts of “awareness”. What’s with this fascination with awareness, do people think once others find out about their miracle company that people are going to line up to buy?!

You don’t need awareness, you need a social object.

Hugh Cartoon-it's not a business until people are recommending you

4. Business development

What the hell does that mean? Okay, we get it Business 101, “to facilitate the ongoing increase of substantially valuable operations, yadda, yadda, yadda”. For most companies and entrepreneurs that’s every day life. If what you’re doing isn’t getting talked about, no “business development officer” is ever going to help grow it. Stop trying to develop business and start making the business you have something special. Why not give every customer something to talk about?

Reminds me of the @HughCartoons cartoon that says: “it’s not a business until people are recommending you.”

If you need business development it’s already too late.

5. Branding – including (Brand Promise/Brand awareness/Brand Development)

Branding only works on cattlethat’s what Johnathan Salem Baskin would tell you. The author of the book by the ever so cleverly titled Branding only works on Cattle. The days of controlling a companies “image” are long gone and using the term branding dates you.

Please stop using a term that makes you sound like Don Draper’s Father. In 2016 that fact that some people still think they can control their brand. You can’t, simple as that. You can influence it and give people reasons to think fondly of you.

branding don't buy in

It’s not the 1980’s, when a smart campaign could blanket an area with a message. You literally could get mass brand awareness for a cost you could afford. Those days are long over. Your “brand” is what people say about you behind your back. It’s what Google says about you want I search your name. Stop trying to create your brand and focus on culture. Your brand is an outcome of your culture, and you can make your culture better every day.

Amazing culture will always trump any “branding” initiative. 

6. Social Marketing

All marketing is inherently social in some way, saying “Social Marketing” is simply redundant. Like “Kills Bugs Dead”. Thanks for that brilliant one Raid! I hate killing bugs and they not die.

I remember working with a company on their social media strategy and the staff complained that no one in the marketing department shared the social media plan with them. They quoted the marketing staff as saying “they didn’t need to know about it.” It is a “SOCIAL” media plan, why the hell can’t you share it? Well unless you’re worried about what feedback you’re going to get on it. When we’re scared we tend not to share.

Hoarding knowledge is a sign of low confidence in your trade. If you’re as good as you think you are you’d want feedback to yourself better. 


7. Strategic Planning

Usually ends up in neither.

The irony of strategic planning is the end result is never really strategic and it’s not an easily followed plan either. So what the heck?!

We go into these sessions with high hopes, then at meeting time people regurgitate what they already know (no ones dares mention an original idea), and the plan put in place has no employee input so the odds of success are slim to nil.

When the ownership group finally understands that letting go of control during the strategic planning phase is the only way to get employees to champion your cause, then you know you’re getting somewhere. It starts with the people at the top.

definition of a strategic plan

A plan, if you want it to be implemented, has to be simple enough that all staff members on your team can understand it. That means it needs to be short (one page) and to the point. The “Strategic” part of it shouldn’t be long either. Remember what Porter said: “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”. The simpler the better. If your plan’s longer than a page no one will read it. If your vision is longer than a phrase no one will believe it.

No passion is put into a 20-30 page document that sits on the shelf once printed. The information in it is irrelevant before the ink dries. A lengthy strategic plan has no place in 2016. If you disagree, lets talk about it, I really want to understand the merits of a 10+ page plan.

Maybe instead set a simple but audacious goal. A challenge that you can rally the troops around! Stop doing everything that doesn’t matter and start doing only the things that make a difference.

Clayton M. Christensen, author of The Innovators Dilemma and How Will You Measure Your Lifetalks about if you want to get more done you need to stop doing things that don’t matter. Instead of a yearly strategic planning session, why not hold a “stop doing session”. Instead of planning all the things you want to do next year, why not discuss the things you can stop doing to free up your time to do the things you need to.


Did we miss any? What buzzwords do you hear in the office WAY too often?

Honorable mention to the buzzwords that didn’t make the top 7. Including: irregardless, competitive advantage, and KPI’s