How to stop obfuscating your audience

Ditch the jargons and speak plainly

Be Noisy, LAFORET — Rikako Nagashima

You just delivered a highly-charged elevator pitch. And now it’s the Q&A segment. And then it’s as quiet as a grave. Puzzling? If the responses were twiddling thumbs and blank stares, you might’ve been spewing 20 buzzwords per minute.


Monkey see, monkey do

Bizspeak, office lingos, jargons and buzzwords — I am as guilty as the next person. It’s rather easy to fall into a habit when everyone else is doing it. There are times I find myself unconsciously stuffing words into conversations and explanations. Substituting jargons and using office slang helps me communicate better at work. It builds better rapport as well.

Yes. Buzzwords and office phrases are not entirely bad. It has its benefits when used strategically with the right audience.

However, it gets bad when you start to use it excessively and unnecessarily. Worst is when you use it pretentiously to make you sound that you are already part of a group, or even a *thought leader*.

Take it away Dilbert.

Jargon-monoxide — image source

Communications need to be clear

As technology advances, our attention span becomes shorter (even shorter than a goldfish). Time has become an even more valuable commodity. More and more people have less and less time — nobody has time to sort through all your gobbledygook to understand your message.

Hear me out. Limit your use of highfalutin jargons and excessive euphemisms. It’ time to let *bizspeak* take the back seat.

A simple cure

When the situation calls for it, remember to use plain words instead. Period.

Here’s my personal list of overused phrases/buzzwords and their alternative plain words:

  1. At the End of the day
    Ultimately/Eventually
  2. Moving forward, we will
    From now on/In future, we will
  3. Out of the box(adj.) idea
    Imaginative/Creative/Original idea
  4. Not enough bandwidth
    Busy,
    not enough capacity
  5. Align/Alignment
    Agree/Agreement/Match
  6. With regards to 
    About
  7. Basic Fundamentals
    Redundant. Fundamentals will do.
  8. Streamline operations
    Make more efficient/Organise
  9. Deep dive 
    Examine in detail
  10. No brainer task
    Easy task
  11. Top-of-mind 
    Foremost/First priority/No. 1
  12. Off the top of my head 
    fancy filler — drop it.
  13. Pain points
    Challenges/Problem
    and lastly…
  14. Free Gifts
    Redundant. All gifts are free. 
    Use
    Exclusive, or any other adjective will do.

Stop boring your audience with lame bizspeak and verbal diarrhoea. Drop the fancy fillers and get right to the point. People will pay more attention to you when they actually understand what you’re saying.


There are more jargons and buzzwords out there, what’s on your most annoying list? Do let me know which ones you think should go here!

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