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Opinion 6 Dec 2019 - 2 min read

Nonsense: Let's 'surface' 2019's buzzwords and mangled mantras, 'harvest the feedback' and instigate 'process compression'.

By Rochelle Burbury - Principal, Third Avenue Consulting

We should be "cognisant of the optics" is one of the new lines making its way through industry lingo. Photo : Dan Cook

Here's a selection of 2019’s most entertaining and cringeworthy words, phrases and acronyms that have pervaded meetings, documents, emails and presentations this year. Yes, they have all been heard – seriously, people actually talk like this – by a small group of trusted corporate nonsense freedom fighters. Liberation for 2020! Enjoy the festive spirit.

There was another nail hammered into the coffin of grammar this week with the closure of the Apostrophe Protection Society. Yes, it’s a thing. Announcing its demise, founder John Richards (aged 96!) said: “ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!”

Correct punctuation and language too seem to have also reached the ‘no one cares’ peak, particularly in business. But in this industry, which ostensibly has a pretty intimate relationship with words and language, it would appear it has truly ‘jumped the shark’.

So herewith is a list of 2019’s best words, phrases and acronyms that have pervaded meetings, documents, emails and presentations this year. They have been heard – seriously, people actually talk like this – by myself and my small group of trusted colleagues.

I note that this list doesn’t include all the words attributed to marketing and digital things these days (such as clicks and mortar, cloud centric, open source, human experience etc.). We’d welcome any additions to this list – let’s make it a ‘living document’ - and hope it serves as a wake-up call for some plain English common sense to return (unlikely, so in the interim we’ll all have a field day guffawing at this nonsense). And as a small P.S., one of my long-term bugbears – headlines do not have full stops.

You can add your savvy contributions to the comments section below. 


The best Marketing & Communications Nonsense Words "surfaced" for 2019


  • “Let’s socialise that” = show other people


  • “Active listening” = just listen


  • “Let’s harvest that feedback” = you reap what you sow!


  • “Process compression” = doing it faster


  • “Support your conversion cycles” = if anyone know what this means, please tell me


  • “Put a different lens on it” = find another way


  • “Be cognisant of the optics on that” = do it this way


  • “I’m just spitballing here” = I have no ideas to add


  • “That’s not a statement of do” = just do what I tell you


  • “All pitch and no tent” = it’s a bad idea


  • “This is the wheelhouse we want to play in” = This is where we want to be (with all the other hamsters presumably)


  • “Let me surface that with him/her” = He/she is ignoring me on email so I guess I’ll need to talk to him/her face to face


  • “Pre-mortem workshop” = we may as well as we all know what the post mortem workshop is going to look like


  • “Top to top connect” = two very important people talk to each other


  • “Let’s pool our resources and drill down to the nucleus” = we still haven’t cracked it


  • “Sync” = a meeting


  •  “Let’s take this offline” = we really can’t talk about this in front of all these other people in the meeting


  •  “Let’s circle back” = we need another meeting


  • “Let’s open the kimono” = this can’t be good news


  • “It’s a flock to unlock promotion” – people will like this promotion


  • “Stag it till we tag it” = it needs to wait until we are ready


  • “Conversational strategist” = (This is actually a job title – many of my friends would love to be paid for doing this)


  • “Young professional” = no longer OK to call you an intern or graduate


  • “I need this by EOP today” = End of Play – we can’t call it ‘business’ anymore because apparently work is fun


  • “BAU” – it’s business as usual – that is, nothing to see here!


  • “C-suite” = Lots and lots of important people work there and all need to have a C in their title.


Got some feedback we haven't harvested here yet? Surface it below in our comments section and we'll apply a little process compression to the publishing wheelhouse...

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