How to lose at Buzzword Bingo

Spoken | August 9, 2016

Buzzwords: what are they and why do we use them? The definition of a “buzzword” is: a word or phrase, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context.

Why do we all fall into the trap of using them? Many folks believe that use of buzzwords and jargon makes them sound smarter or more professional, but in truth, these overused expressions tend to make the speaker sound less creative, less specific and less knowledgeable. What’s worse, they can actually decrease productivity due to a lack of clarity about objective and the follow-up actions required.

In fact, corporate buzzwords have generated so many eye-rolls that the game of Buzzword Bingo was created (originally in 1994 in the Dilbert comic strip) as a way to entertain meeting-goers sick of hearing the same meaningless expressions.






DILBERT © 1994 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

How to lose at buzzword bingo

If you want to win buzzword bingo, by all means, use these tired phrases devoid of meaning. But if you’d rather lose at bingo and gain clarity, replace each of these tired expressions with something more specific, literal and creative:

Specific word/phrase

  • Thinking outside the box
  • Crazy ideas, think creatively
  • Circle back
  • Let’s meet at 2:00 next Tuesday to revisit this.
  • Paradigm shift
  • A new way of thinking, a new outlook
  • What’s your workload like?
  • Can you take on creating this document by Thursday?
  • Game changer
  • A new way of thinking
  • Touching base
  • Let’s meet at 2:00 next Tuesday to revisit this.
  • Mission critical
  • A high priority/the highest priority
  • Low hanging fruit
  • The quick and easy win
  • Back burner
  • We are not pursuing this idea right now, and we may or may not pursue it later.

Buzzword Bingo Board


















No one likes vagueness and that’s what buzzwords create; they are nebulous and unlikely to result in precise action. When it comes down to it, most people appreciate honesty and clarity, especially coming from their leaders. So if you’ve found yourself using these or other buzzwords, now is a good time to turn over a new leaf.

Or maybe just commit to clear, concise language usage.


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