Every year people in business get excited about new ideas. Someone will coin a phrase, and then everyone runs with it until it loses its meaning.
Business communications specialists pick up these revolutionary "buzzword" trends early but eventually they become so adulterated that they ultimately lose their value.
In March this year, UK-based content marketing agency theEword asked over 1,000 business owners and professionals what words had moved from buzz to bland.
Combined with another survey from Ragan's PR Daily, there are a couple that have almost certainly overstayed their welcome. So when composing corporate communications this year, it could be time to start avoiding the following three.
Borrowing this one from biochemistry, synergy describes the situation when more than one drug would interact together and enhance the benefits or side-effects. For instance, caffeine speeds up the absorption of paracetamol. In a business context, we use it to refer to when two things come together to create something greater than before.
This one has certainly lost it's shine, appearing on both lists. Instead, go back to concrete terms, such as collaboration and co-creation, to make sure your communication doesn't lose it's impact.
Solutions has come up a lot recently as a way to make problems seem more positive. Jenny Ulman, Managing Director of Strategic Communications for King Estate Winery, explained why she can't stand this word.
"Not everything in life is a problem to be solved," she irked to Pr Daily.
She argues that too often we talk of solutions, but there is no action. Ultimately, it doesn't drive us to actually find a remedy.
Freelance communications consultant Jane Callahan suggested that this one has become so over-used that it is actually imploding on itself. She suggests that claiming to be innovative signifies that you probably aren't.
"Innovation has become so overused that it now brings about feelings of its exact opposite meaning. It has joined the ranks of disruptive."
"It is enough to just use clear, simple, transparent language."
Why should you avoid the buzz?
Managing Director of theEword Daniel Nolan explained how overusing such buzzwords and business jargon is not really going to make you look competent or wise. Instead, it can actually damage your corporate communications.
"You really don't need to succumb to nuisance jargon to succeed in business," said Mr Nolan, "it is enough to just use clear, simple, transparent language."
"The sooner people realise that, they're likely to be less distracted, more productive and not drive people mad in the process."