How Avoiding Buzzwords and Platitudes Helps You to Stand Out and Be Your Authentic Self

Your messaging doesn't need buzzwords to be noticed. You need a strong message instead!

We’ve all done it and we often don’t notice. But there’s not one of us who hasn’t used buzzwords or platitudes.

The question is – when does a perfectly normal word become a buzzword and when does an original phrase become a platitude?

"A buzzword is a word or expression that has become fashionable in a particular field and is being used a lot by the media"
"A platitude is a remark or statement that may be true but is boring and has no meaning because it has been said so many times before"

Often, it is hard to know when a word becomes a buzzword and a sentence becomes a platitude. And it is hard to spot when the words you are using trigger your audience’s BS detectors.

It is also hard to know what the tolerable “buzzword/platitude density” is in any given situation and how many you can use during one audience touchpoint.

Whether that is during a coffee chat, a social media post, or on a sales page.

[First buzzword alert – coffee chat is a word that currently stresses people out because it or its alternatives (strategy call, free strategy roadmap, creative session, roadmap discussion…) give people mental hives]

But one thing is sure – when overused, buzzwords and platitudes deter people. They are a verbal minefield that can be hard to navigate.

On the one hand, you want to speak your audience’s language – but on the other hand, you don’t want to alienate them with commonplace language.

On the one hand, you want your voice to be recognised because it’s part of your brand – but on the other hand, you don’t want to stereotype yourself.

As usual, it’s all about finding the right balance!

[First platitude alert – “finding the right balance” can be as meaningless a phrase as it can be annoying because there is no real data to measure the right balance in any given case.]

But why are buzzwords and platitudes so annoying?

This article reflects my opinion much more than previous articles because this one is written based on hunches, emotions, feelings, and, yes, assumptions.

I have spoken with a few people and followed a few heated conversations on social media (one was a discussion about the term “tribe” that got so out of control that people started throwing abuse at each other).

And that is the reason, why we find buzzwords and platitudes so annoying. They trigger emotions.

Strong emotions that are not always positive.

Many people find platitudes offensive because they…

  • Overgeneralise
  • Put you in a box
  • Minimalise or trivialise what you feel or what you struggle with
  • Feel superficial and condescending because they tell you what you want to hear
  • Are falling flat because you’ve heard them too many times before without consequences

Too often buzzwords and platitudes are created when the words are taken out of context and used in a way that is supposed to get your attention but when you think about it a little, then you notice that they weren’t used thoughtfully and intentionally.

These statements are taken at face value, often without fact-checking or testing.

The phrase “your audience doesn’t care about you” has been overused in the worst way possible. It was meant to help marketers understand that they should focus on their audience in the first instance.

That advice is solid. But it also makes you hesitate to talk about yourself and share the details that your audience needs to understand to choose you over someone else.

It feeds limiting beliefs and imposter syndrome. It tells you that you don’t matter, that you don’t deserve anything positive.

It tells you not to care about yourself but only about others.

It doesn’t teach you when and how to talk about yourself to help your audience see how you are different and how they share your story.

It doesn’t teach you which stories you need to tell and which details to share so that they can build a meaningful connection with you.

When people choose to work with you – a large part of that is that they want to work with YOU because of who you are, what you know, how you work, what results you get them, what your values and beliefs are, what your story is, and how you approach their problem.

Building relationships requires you to share information about yourself and be approachable, genuine, and human. People want to experience human connection. And for that, you need to share details about yourself and how you can help them.

I am sure that you can find more examples like this one.

What are you hiding?

I have found that people who are refreshingly outspoken and do not hide behind commonplaces can be uncomfortable because they challenge you more openly. But they often have a solution for you and hold you accountable (because they hold themselves to high non-BS standards).

People who use buzzwords and platitudes make me suspicious. I imagine that they either…

  • Don’t have very much of an original nature to say
  • Don’t have in-depth knowledge and experience
  • Choose blueprints as a safe option (after all, blueprints are “proven” to work)
  • Fear to show up authentically (because rejection and judgement are hard to deal with)

I have experienced the combination of confidence and platitudes first hand and it was very educational.

It took me a while to see further than the intimidating confidence and discover a superficiality that stopped me from asking deep questions because it was so convincing.

Now, when I hear or see platitudes, I ask questions to make sure that I discover the true reasons why that person is using them.

About messaging, understanding yourself, skills, and the love for words

The truth is – that some people use platitudes because they currently don’t have any better words to express themselves.

They have done some of the deep work, understand themselves, their offer, value proposition, and how they are different - to a certain degree, but they just cannot express it in words that do their inner world and knowledge justice.

I work with these people every day. They are amazing and have so much to offer, but they just can’t get out of their own head and find the words that express what they want to say with originality, clarity, personal style, and in their own words.

Often there’s chaos in their heads and they just need help to connect the dots and get some structure that simplifies their ideas.

It is much easier to talk about simple things. With chaos and complexity, you run the risk of losing your audience after the first few minutes (if that).

But there is a simple solution to this problem…

Working with someone who brings a fresh perspective and knows how to structure and simplify – and who can teach you enough about loving words and the tools and techniques that allow you to translate your thoughts into messages that carry the right meaning and connect with the right people.

Learning to love language is the key to expressing yourself in a thousand different ways with originality and impact.

And if you want to know more about how you can achieve that, then send me a message. I am more than happy to help.

Categories: : Authenticity, Brand Messaging, Brand Storytelling, Branding, Content Creation, content marketing, Content tips, Copywriting

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