I’m not one for chain emails, but a while back I received one that was a clever and biting satire of corporate-speak. It described a game called B.S. Bingo, declaring it “the rage with hip organizations everywhere.”
The game looked like a traditional BINGO board, but instead of numbers in each square, there were overused business expressions like “not enough bandwidth”, “best of breed”, and “low hanging fruit”. The rules were simple: Each person at the meeting gets a board, and each time someone uttered one of these tired expressions, the adept listeners could mark that square. The first one to fill the board gets a promotion.
What makes this so funny to me is that it is oh, so sadly relevant of what we hear in conversations, meetings and presentations every day. It’s as if we are all clamoring to board the professional “in-crowd” trolley that we’ve lost our ability to express ourselves in a unique and personal way.
Like anything in popular culture, a business phrase starts out as original and memorable but ends up being cliché and pedestrian. The potential for abuse is great in the professional world because, so many business people are so concerned with fitting in and appearing knowledgeable that they pick up these phrases as a means of fitting in; only to start sounding like those who they are trying to emulate.
The best way to avoid sounding like a B.S. Bingo board is to articulate. Be expressive. Paint a picture rather than resort to catch-phrases in order to communicate.
One benefit is that people will listen more closely to what you have to say because your words won’t float over them like so many buzz words. Another plus is that they will view you as an individual thinker with a distinct point of view.