The buzzword and b***ocks trap


Replace buzzwords and b***ocks with words that are relevant, real and clear.

Written and spoken words that mean nothing to the listener or reader (or sometimes anyone at all) - are a massive barrier to trust and clarity. Avoid buzzword overload. Here are some common traps we will all have fallen into at some point. First step is to be aware of the traps!

So what if it is 'outside the box' or 'future-proof' - so what if it is all about 'synergy' and 'paradigm shift'? So what if it is 'a dream transformed into a reality'?

People you are communicating with just want to understand what you do for who and why. Don’t get me wrong - I am not trying to make you boring and banal! Read on - we will get to the fine-tuning bit.

Firstly - context (always)

The buzzword and b***ocks trap can be fallen into when :

  • Designing your Business cards
  • Writing your social media Profiles
  • Working out your Elevator ‘pitch’ for networking.

The same rules apply.  I have come up with an acronym that I really hope is clear! There is nothing wrong with acronyms as such - but they can be horrendous! Beware the over-contrived or industry specific acronyms - use with caution.  Here goes:


  1. Relevant
  2. Enthusiastic
  3. Simple
  4. Individual
  5. Sensuous
  6. True

Resist the temptation to use buzzwords and b***ocks

Your audience will resist tuning in if you do

Get this right and you will be irresistible

Let’s look at these qualities ( I suspect number 5 will be intriguing you - but don’t skip the others!)


You can’t please everyone all of the time.  

Your product or service will not be at all relevant to a vast amount of people - not a problem.  What is a problem though is if you don’t think about who you are ‘talking’ to. Make it easy for the ‘not relevant to me’ people to know that it is not relevant to them! Don’t make them work hard to figure this out.  After all - you never know who they might know - if you have been clear then they can go tell other people about you!


Being simple and straightforward does not mean being boring.

If you are not genuinely enthused by what your company does - then how will anyone else be? Inject a sense of passion by the tone of your voice and body language (when face to face) - and using real words that people hook into. In the written word - this can be achieved through simplicity, colour and design ( I am not a designer - I will leave this to the experts).  Orange is enthusiastic (hence my brand colour!).  Do a google search for inspiration for business cards - ask yourself - is there a sense of enthusiasm in this card - and what is it that achieves this?


Less is more and Leave them wanting more 

- terms frequently used in the acting profession!

Avoid the temptation to throw the ‘kitchen sink’ into your pitch or profile. I believe we do this from a place of concern that we if we don’t tell them lots of show-off stuff they will not find us credible.  Trust me - the opposite is true.  You should leave them with a sense of: I get what this is - I am interested to know more. Don't try to over-justify.


In this day and age it is increasingly important that we embrace individuality.

Do not be afraid to differentiate and have an opinion.  However - a word of warning… do not try to over do the ‘opinion’ bit or ‘quirky’ stuff when you only have a few seconds or sentences to convey a message. If you avoid overused tired old phrases and buzzwords - you will avoid falling into this trap.

Use your own words - normal words that come out of your mouth when you are chatting to your mates (but refined a little). Be you. When people feel you are using cliches and words that are ‘on-trend’ - they can’t see the real you or the real value of your product or service - you are eroding trust. Trust is won or lost very quickly in these situations.


Aah! Did you skip forward to this one? Go back!


What do I mean by sensuous in the context of your pitches and profiles and business cards?

There is an excellent book called ‘Compelling People’ - in which they talk about the strong/warm balance needed for effective communication.  It is this warm quality that attracts people to you - that gets them to listen and feel connected.  Warm and sensuous. Being warm does not mean being fluffy or soppy by the way.

The definition of sensuous:

‘Relating to or affecting the senses rather than the intellect’

Use words that appeal to the senses, feelings, emotions.  Again - I don’t mean gushing with sensuality all over the place - this would be scary - I just mean pop a few real sense inducing words in - such as:


Or paint a picture with words - but keep it simple.

Or give an example that includes something people will ‘feel’ - but keep it short


Be genuine, be real - a bit of vulnerability is a good trust -builder.

Obvious really.  There is nothing more of a turn off than someone making flashy statements that might be an ‘exaggeration’ or ‘ embellishment’.  Whatever you say you need to be very relaxed about the idea that someone might ask you to tell them more. When you throw in buzzwords and b***ocks you will run the risk of drowning in them yourself - you can’t make them make sense because they are not your true words - they mean nothing.

Just one more tip - when it feels right - ask a question - and inspire them to ask a question...make it interactive (interactive is becoming a bit of a buzzword at the moment mind you!)

I work with clients who want to become clearer and more confident communicators. This can be in person or on skype - so let's talk.

Check out the Plain English Campaign website - some great examples of buzzwords and ...

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Trisha Lewis

I help people become more effective communicators through the kind of coaching that offers a safe space to explore and rehearse and better understand the impact they have. My blog is full of insights and tactics that will help you break down the barriers that prevent you from being a truly effective communicator. These insights are based on my own experience as well as the issues raised during coaching sessions and workshops.