How to Use Buzzwords

Buzzword-speak is mockable – yet necessary. Learn to master it in your thinking, writing and speaking

  • innovative/innovation/innovate
  • agile
  • strategy
  • customer-focused
  • digital business
  • big data
  • value
  • disruptive
  • change
  • collaborative
  • competitive advantage
  • unique value proposition
  • scaled/scalable
  • cloud/cloud-based
  • digital transformation
  • platform
  • culture
  • revolution
  • AI
  • growth/growth hacking
  • sustainable
  • network
  • brand/branding/brand identity
  • synergies
  • transformation
  • upside
  • harness
  • marketing 
  • data-driven
  • digital first
  • messaging
  • something-first – strategy-first, digital-first, innovation-first
  • something approach – culture approach, data-driven approach, 

Put it together and you get:

By being both digital first and sustainable, our secure approach will drive artificial intelligence throughout the organization. Synergies between our platform and value will enable us to capture the upside by becoming innovative in a cloud based world. These transformations combined with blockchain due to our data leaders will create a learning organization through revolution and social media.

Sounds familiar, right?

This paragraph was generated by the kind of amusing buzzword nonsense generators that have been around since the dotcom boom.

This kind of language is so thoughtless and unoriginal that an AI text generation script written by a mental chimpanzee can write it. Yet it’s ubiquitous in the overlapping worlds of consulting, marketing & branding, tech startups, and corporate business. That’s why it sounds so familiar. 

B2B mega-brands like McKinsey & Accenture rely on size and power-relationships to get business, allowing them to output this kind of word-garbage.

Industry-specific advice on how leaders can harness change to overcome challenges. (from

“harness change”… Can you get any more cringey?

One theory is that an evil super-villain pays large companies like Accenture and McKinsey to induce as much societal cringe as possible.

*       *       *

This where I’m supposed to say: don’t use these words.

Or, remove these words from your homepage copy.

And those are both useful exercises, especially the latter.

But I wouldn’t go that far.

Instead, I’d say:

  1. Learn to use buzzwords, but frugally
  2. Be extra careful using them together (change strategy), thereby inducing cringe exponentially
  3. Define what these words mean to you, in writing (using no other buzzwords to do so). Be able to defend your definition
  4. Get comfortable using these words as you define them in speech and conversation
  5. Use them only in combination with original language devoid of buzzwords

This is a bold approach. You’re trying to leap over a pretty deep canyon and it’s a long way across. You run the risk of falling – sounding copycat or even awkward.

But these words became popular for a reason; their meanings are connected to money, value, and power of some kind, ultimately. If you learn to wield them with tact and precision, you’ll gain a business advantage.

By the way, you might think I’m talking about messaging here. But first and foremost, I’m talking about how you wield these words in your thoughts.