Is your brand or company unique? Did you groan or roll your eyes after reading the word unique? Businesses often draw from the same pool of vocabulary words, making once powerful words weak from overuse. This is an opportunity for writers at every level to stand out by eschewing buzzwords. Below are a few of the most overused words in business communication and suggestions for alternative word choices.
Used in a business or communication context, the word engagement has become more of a metric than a noun. When someone says, “We have a high rate of engagement with our target audience,” what do they really mean? This phrase is used so often now that its meaning has gotten vague, so if you can quantify that high rate, do so. Instead of stopping at the blanket term of engagement, go into detail about the likes, conversations and other interactions that make your business or brand so engaging.
Instead, try… Rapport, feedback or actual numbers
Game changing, revolutionary
When was the last time something called “game changing” really, truly changed the game? If you’re calling something game changing, it should be on par with the discovery of penicillin, the implementation of the assembly line or The Beatles. A new version of an existing product isn’t necessarily revolutionary. Before using these words, consider if what you’re describing will still be around in 50 years.
Instead, try…Advanced, redesigned, industry-best
Innovative is possibly the biggest causality in the corporate wordscape. So many non-innovative things have been called innovative that the word’s value is arguably at an all time low. Compared to revolutionary, innovative has a more subtle sound; try using other words or phrases to convey a change in thinking or doing.
Instead, try…Smart, new-edge, creative
Poor synergy. The word once evoked high-energy, high-power, an electric, mutually beneficial relationship between two objects or partners. Now, due to overuse, it’s become a corporate punch line and frequent guest on “most hated business words” lists.
Instead, try…Cooperative, symbiotic, collaborative
Using a buzzword to cover up a lack of real knowledge or actual activity often makes the speaker seem less competent. The goal of any communication—any email, phone call, tweet, text or face-to-face discussion—should be clarity, so worry less about sounding knowledgeable and instead say what you know. The more we abuse words’ meanings, the less valuable they are. Say what you mean, without the buzzwords, and your message will mean more. What words do you think are overused? Let us know in the comments.