Have you ever been in a meeting in English when someone uses a word or phrase that simply does not make any sense?

Words and phrases like synergy or move the needle can easily be confusing to someone who does not know their special meaning. If you don’t understand these, no need to worry because today we are going to uncover the mystery of business buzzwords.

What is a business buzzword?

A buzzword is an expression that is very popular at the moment, which is used to describe new developments in business. They usually have a short life, so buzzwords used 5 years ago are probably not as popular today. Often times they are used to make the speaker sound more knowledgeable on a specific subject.

Instead of saying, “Our new marketing campaign will grow our sales,” speakers can replace a simple word like grow with a buzzword like amplify to sound more sophisticated.

If you think words like these may be unnecessary, and just makes things more complicated you’re not wrong! However this is the way things are in business, so let's spend a few minutes reviewing some buzzwords that are popular today.

Most common buzzwords around today

 1. Outside the box- This buzzword means to think differently, or think innovatively. It is often used in meeting when brainstorming new ideas for company projects.

Ex: “OK you guys, we really need to think outside the box to come up with a unique marketing message for our new product release.”

2. Synergy- Increased effectiveness that results when two or more people or businesses work together. This is usually used within the group setting and when achieved, it has a positive result on the group.  

Ex: “The marketing department has great synergy because everyone gets along well, and they work hard for their common goal.”

3. Milestone- Important goal or achievement that is reached. This buzzword is used as a metric to measure various company goals throughout the year or month. It is usually used only after the goal is accomplished and not before.

Ex: “Last week we reached our quarterly sales milestone of $50,000.”

4. Move the needle: To generate positive reactions. This is used when a company or a person wants to make a positive impression on someone, usually a customer or client.

Ex: “We really want to move the needle with our new marketing promotion.” “We hope that by giving away a 10% discount on the new product, we can move the needle with our customer base.”

5. Streamline: To improve by combining functions and reducing waste. This is used when a company wants to save some money by combining tasks of the employees or within production.

Ex: “We decided to streamline the process by having the cashier at the coffee shop also pour the coffee, instead of having two separate employees for each function.”

6. Amplify: To grow/increase. This one is simple, it is just a substitute for the verbs grow/increase.

Ex: “Our goal this quarter is to amplify our net sales by 25%.”

7. Ballpark: Estimate. This one is a baseball term, the players play at the ballpark and it simply means a rough estimate or approximation.

Ex: “We ballpark our annual sales budget to be around $50,000.” “Our customer base has continued to grow in the ballpark of around 15 new clients each month.”

8. Pivot: To change direction when something isn’t working. This is a basketball term because when you stop dribbling the ball, you can use one foot to “pivot” or stay in one place, while you can use the other foot to change direction. It does not mean completely turn around, but to just make a slight adjustment.

Ex: “Our last commercial on TV didn’t bring in many new sales, so we need to pivot our message.”

9. Face time: Time spent with another person face to face (in person). This is often used when someone wants to talk to you in person rather than over the phone or through email.

Ex: “Hey John, it has been a while since we have discussed your work performance, let’s get some face time this Friday and we can catch up.”

10. Resonate: To be filled with deep emotion or belief. When you want people to really get behind your message or idea, you want the idea to resonate with them.

Ex: “We really hope that our new approach to doing business in a sustainable way resonates with our customers.”

11. Called up to the majors: To be promoted. Another sports term, if you haven’t gotten it by now- we love our sports in the USA! This one is a baseball term, and it refers to when a “minor league” player is finally ready to play professional baseball (major league)- he is “called up to the majors.”

Ex: “Did you hear that John was finally called up to the majors? I think he really deserves it, he has put in a lot of hard work and has waited many years for this opportunity.”

12. Circle back- To come back to an issue later. When someone wants to focus on a different topic they can use this buzzword to convey that they want to revisit a topic at a later time.

Ex: “We definitely need to talk about the decrease in customer satisfaction, but let's circle back to that after we are done discussing the new tax laws.”

13. Win-win: When both parties win; good for everyone involved. Usually when a deal is made, it is beneficial to both sides.

Ex: “This new contract with Smithson Co. was a win-win; we were able to provide them with the lowest cost, and also we get a new client.”

14. Peel the onion: To examine a problem one layer at a time. This is used for problems that are more complex and need careful analysis.

Ex: “We are losing customers at an alarming rate. We really need to peel the onion with this one to see what the cause is of this.”

15. End-to-end solution: Complete solution. As you can see, it would just be easier to say “complete solution” but the point of these words is mostly to sound more knowledgeable about a subject.

Ex: “We need to find an end-to-end solution to the problem of our shrinking customer base.”

Now you’re ready to go face the business world with your new buzzwords! This is a short list of some of the most common buzzwords around today, but there are plenty more out there to learn. Now that you have a foundation of buzzwords, don’t be afraid to go out there and try a couple out at your next meeting in English! You will sound like the expert and people will be impressed.

Next time we will go over a new set of buzzwords, so spend some time practicing with these for now. A great idea is to write down your own examples for each buzzword to help you grasp the ideas better.

Thanks for joining us and we hope you were able to amplify your buzzword knowledge!