Beyond the Buzzword

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Ahh, the buzzword; the unavoidable bedrock of tech-sector communication.

As eye roll-inducing as buzzwords can be, this lexicon, pulled from a seemingly endless well of clumsy portmanteaus and self-indulgent double meanings, is an industry standard for a reason.

Simply put, tech is in an ever-evolving state of flux, so naturally, so should the language which surrounds it. It just makes sense. They might be messy—even silly—but in the right time and place, and used with sufficient restraint; buzzwords inarguably get the job done.

To get a sense of the current buzzword climate, we caught up with STRVers from various creative disciplines to hear about their personal relationships with buzzwords and get their advice for navigating techspeak terrain like a pro.

Kate_buzz

KATERINA DOUSKOVA
PRODUCT MANAGER

When working to facilitate B2C synergy, do you deploy or disambiguate buzzword  communications during client engagement?

I find that communication—on its own—is the key to any good product development. It is honestly hard enough to manage expectations and ensure all ideas/thoughts are being communicated properly so that a product can launch successfully. I try to stay away from buzzwords because, in the end, it can cause more confusion. I’ve been burned more times than I can count when we ask the client, “Do you know what ___ means?” and they just nod.

If we know that a client is very technical, and they understand what we mean—then we use some of the tech buzzwords; otherwise, it complicates things.

In a nutshell—there is a time and a place for buzzwords. They can assist and ease communication, BUT you have to ensure all communicating parties KNOWS what the buzzword actually means. FULLY. Otherwise, it will just hurt you and the team as it can set up false expectations for the client or the developer.

Michal_buzz

MICHAL KLACKO
BACKEND SENIOR LEAD

As a team leader, what are your value-driven protocols for buzzword implementation?

There can be so much below the surface of a buzzword. It is precisely for this reason that when I speak to my team, I tend to use fewer buzzwords as it helps me be more specific about the technologies.

For example, instead of saying that we’re building a robust, seamless, and extendable app, I will explain to the developer what kind of architecture I’m considering and that it should be containerized via Docker, managed via K8s, and deployed in AWS. The Docker/K8s + AWS part will relate to the “robust” and “seamless” buzzwords, and the specific architecture explanation will relate to the “extendable app” buzz.

With the clients (especially the non-technical ones), buzzwords can be great for conveying complex ideas—but you have to be selective. The last thing you need is for the client to want all of the “buzzword technologies” in their project when it doesn’t make sense.

RIA_buzz

RIA ARANTE
PRODUCT DESIGNER

When disseminating buzz-speak, does your focus for cultivating innovative communication strategies differ for peers as compared to end-users?

Being part of a team of designers, PMs, and developers, it’s to be expected to have a set of shared vocabulary ingrained in our process: such as ideate, iteration, scope, and deliverable. Changing them would just cause confusion and delay in our communication.

However, it’s still important to note that even though ‘some’ buzzwords are acceptable in this situation, I still avoid overusing them unnecessarily. I try not to ramble off, especially if I’m communicating complex information. My goal is always not to waste my teammates’ time.

Whereas with users, I always imagine that the ones I’m talking with are my friends or family who literally don’t know anything about technology. Sometimes I even try to challenge myself to explain things in a way a five-year-old could understand. It’s more conversational, and buzzwords definitely have no place in this setting.

For example, if there’s a complicated action in the mobile app, I don’t tell them to ‘deep dive on this information’ or ‘drill down,’ both of which are commonly used business buzzwords. Instead, I just tell them to ‘read more’ or ‘learn more’—way more simple and clear.

Linda_buzz

LINDA KRESTANOVA
SENIOR COPYWRITER

As a content generation specialist, do you embrace buzzwords, leveraging them as vital communication hacks, or limit engagement for enhanced credibility?

No text, no creative output should be built around buzzwords. They’re a tool, not a strategy. You have to know what you want to say, and you have to mean every word. No bullshit.

Then, when you weave in a buzzword that fits the context, you haven’t created just another wordy, nonsensical promise. You’ve shared a unique thought, and have used buzzwords to make it more visible and more understood.

It’s kind of like producing a beautiful piece of art and illuminating it using the same light fixtures as most artists in most galleries. You’re using something that’s been proven to work to ensure your art is noticed. That’s not being just another sheep in the herd. That’s being smart.

I don’t think it’s right to fight buzzwords. Do they occasionally piss me off? A little. Maybe. Perhaps. But I’ve also read the research and listened to the experts. In certain settings, on certain platforms—buzzwords work. What’s important is how they’re implemented.

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James Christopher Lacek

James Christopher Lacek

JC is a US journalist, graphic novelist, and playwright currently living in Prague with his lovely wife, their well-mannered cat, and a border collie that has eaten more than one pair of his shoes.

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