PSA: Watch Your Language

PSA: Watch Your Language

Work with passion, storytelling, algorithm, thought leader, viral, millennial, influencer; we’re sure you know someone who throws around a few too many buzzwords, or at the very least you’ve rolled your eyes (physically or mentally) when someone brought these up in conversation. While these words and phrases can have different meanings depending on the context, they’re so overused that even saying them will likely lose the attention of some of your audience. Below are a few ways to substitute these words for different language, as well as a look into why we use buzzwords in the first place.

Why Use Buzzwords?

Like we mentioned before, this kind of language definitely has its place in communicating with other people, but often this jargon is thrown out there to add credibility. Almost comedically, the very definition of a buzzword is: “an important-sounding usually technical word or phrase often of little meaning used chiefly to impress laymen”. Let that settle in, most notably the “chiefly to impress laymen” part. Yes, these buzzwords usually have very specific meanings, but it’s best to actually define them in your conversations to avoid sounding pretentious.

Communicate Clearly

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The entire goal of speaking with someone is to get your ideas from your head into theirs and the best way to do that is to communicate clearly and simply. When we use buzzwords and cliches, often times the meaning is lost in the audience; they have to take one phrase and translate it into an idea that makes sense within the context of what you’re talking about. Doing this mid-read or mid-conversation tends to disrupt your audience’s flow. Buzzwords have their places and we’re not saying to ditch them all together, but usually if you can’t say what you need to say simply and in your own words, chances are you might not have the firmest grasp on the subject.

Breakdown the Buzzwords

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Every industry has it’s own list of cliches, acronyms, and buzzwords and usually for good reason. These terms are in place to convey a very specific idea or concept and are used to get everyone on the same page. The problem is, when discussing topics to people outside your realm of expertise, there could be room for misinterpretation, or at the least, just a waste of time (think about the last time you threw out an acronym only to have the person you’re talking to ask you what that means).

For example, one of the words thrown around a lot in the advertising and marketing industries is ‘algorithm’: “Facebook changed it’s algorithm again”. Sometimes the same word used in different contexts could have different meanings: Google uses its algorithm to determine what results to show you when you search something, while Facebook uses its algorithm to determine post relevancy for users.

Again, we’re not saying that any of this language is completely useless, especially if you take the time upfront to define it for your audience. Using your industry’s jargon can help you get on the same page as someone else or help to convey very specific ideas quickly. But when these words are used to increase your clout or to try to fit in, you might want to reconsider using them in the first place.

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