65 Examples of Corporate Business Babble — and What to Say Instead

Business jargon has long dominated corporate conversations, complicating straightforward discussions.

My colleague Shannon and I tackled this issue a few years back by creating Business Babble Bingo—a playful yet enlightening game.

This game was our subtle rebellion against the meaningless buzzwords dominating meetings, presentations, and websites.

But despite the time elapsed, the problem of business jargon still muddles communication.

So, this article demystifies a few of the most overused phrases.

We’ll replace them with simpler alternatives to determine if you’re an experienced “thought leader” or new to the business world. Embrace this transformation for a definite “win-win” outcome.

65 Examples of Corporate Business Babble — and What to Say Instead
What We Sound Like When We Babble
The Human We Could Sound Like

65 Examples of Corporate Business Babble — and What to Say Instead

1. Thought Leader

A recognized authority in a certain subject matter is often called a “thought leader.” However, you could also call them an “expert,” “authority,” or just … their name.

For Example

I just got back from coffee with a thought leader. >> I just got back from coffee with Seth Godin.

2. Opened the Kimono

An incredibly creepy way of saying someone shared information, “opened the kimono,” might be better replaced with such simple phrases as “told,” “shared,” “revealed,” or even just “said.”

For Example

He opened the kimono about his new book. >> He shared some information about his new book.

3. Core Competency

Technically, this expertise offers a competitive advantage, though it‘s often just used to indicate expertise. You could call this, well, “expertise” — or perhaps a “unique skill” or “differentiator” if you’re going for the original definition.

For Example

As you know, unicorns are his core competency. >> He knows a lot about unicorns.

4. Coming Down the Pike

It is another way of saying something‘s going to happen in the future. “Expect X” or “You’ll hear about Y soon” are also perfectly acceptable, boring as they may be.

For Example

There are some new unicorn advancements coming down the pike. >> You’ll hear about some recent unicorn advancements soon.

5. Start a Dialogue

The implication is that you‘ll start an ongoing discussion that’s a two-way street instead of offering a directive with no opportunity for discussion. However, there are simple phrases like “ask,” “talk to,” and “meet” that work just as well.

For Example

My team should start a dialogue with your team. >> Our teams should talk.

6. Utilize

The word every editor changes to “use.” Just say “use.”

For Example

Let‘s utilize all our resources. >> Let’s use all our resources.

7. Leverage

If you‘re in finance or work with heavy objects for a living, you get a pass on this.

People in business, however, tend to use this to mean they’re making use of a good resource, even though “make use of,” “use,” “help,” and “rely on” do the trick quite nicely.

For Example

We have a lot of strengths we can leverage. >> We have a lot of good resources that can help.

8. Whiteboard It

If anyone ever says, “Let’s whiteboard it,” they’re about to hold the meeting hostage with a dry-erase board and a marker.

If, however, they ask people to “brainstorm,” “think through,” “lay out,” or “talk out” an idea, things should be alright.

For Example

We need to whiteboard our presentation‘s agenda. >> Let’s think through our presentation’s agenda.

9. Ideate

You really don’t need to use fancy words to impress. Instead of saying “ideate,” just say “think of” or “come up with ideas.”

For Example

Our teams need to meet for an ideation session. >> Our teams should meet to come up with some ideas.

10. Take It to the Next Level

A generic phrase is used when we aren’t sure what the “next level” actually is. Sometimes, we’re not even sure what “it” is.

Instead, say, “Improve X by 10%” or “Make Y better by changing the copy” —being specific about what you want changed and what exactly constitutes an improvement.

For Example

We should talk to Andrea about how to take this idea to the next level. >> We should talk to Andrea about how to make the homepage a better destination for customers.

11. Learnings

These are the things you learn after you learn something. You could just say, “I learned,” or “The takeaways were.”

For Example

Let’s put our learnings together after the meeting and share with Andrea. >> Let’s tell Andrea what we learned.

12. Best-in-Breed

A phrase that simply means you want to be the best has turned business into the Westminster Dog Show. Consider alternatives like “standout,” “top,” or, simply, “best.”

For Example

She wants to remain a best-in-breed company. >> She wants our company to remain the best in the industry.

13. Shifting Paradigms

Calling something a paradigm shift is not babbly in and of itself. The problem is that it‘s usually used to describe things that aren’t paradigm shifts. So, the phrase has lost all meaning.

Unless something changes the most basic assumptions we base our decisions on, maybe just call it a “big change.”

For Example

Our industry is facing critical paradigm shifts. >> There are some big changes coming in our industry.

14. Boil the Ocean

A cute way of saying you’re taking on too much, this phrase might be better replaced with a straightforward saying like “taking on too much” or “impossible.”

For Example

I think we‘re boiling the ocean in this email. Maybe we should meet in person. >> I think we’re taking on too much for an email. Let’s meet in person.

15. Move the Needle

Just as adorable as ocean boiling, needle moving is all about showing more of those ROIs. However, it might be better to say you’re trying to improve a specific, measurable amount.

For Example

Our team doesn‘t have enough budget to really move the needle on this initiative. >> Our team doesn’t have enough budget to increase conversions by 10%.

16. Out of Pocket

This is a way of saying you’ll be unreachable. Of course, I recommend saying you are “unreachable.” No need to bring your pockets into this.

For Example

I’m out of pocket for the next two weeks. >> I’m unreachable for the next two weeks.

17. Noodle on It

Noodling something can be less creepily described by phrases such as “I’ll think about it” or “Let me think of some more ideas.” (Please don’t use this as an opportunity to bring back “ideate.”)

For Example

Noodle on it while I‘m gone. >> Think about it while I’m gone.

18. Punt

Ah, another office sports analogy. If you “punt” an idea, you might consider just “postponing” or “putting it off.”

For Example

Let‘s punt this until I get back from vacation. >> Let’s talk about this after I get back from vacation.

19. Ping

If you want to “ping” somebody, it means you’re looking to “talk to” them or “contact” them. Maybe via an “IM” or a “call.”

For Example

I’ll ping you when I return. >> I’ll email you when I return.

20. Circle Back

Want to meet about something again at a later date? Talk later? Reconnect? All better options than the babbly “circle back.”

For Example

We should circle back on this once we’ve talked to John. >> We should meet about this again after we talk to John.

21. Synergy

“Synergy” describes a situation where different entities come together to produce a result greater than the sum of their individual efforts. A simpler term might be “collaboration” or “teamwork.”

For Example

Our teams have great synergy. >> Our teams work well together.

22. Verticals

A specialized field or market is often referred to as a “vertical.” However, “industry sector” or simply “field” would work too.

For Example

We‘re exploring new verticals. >> We’re exploring new industry sectors.

23. Buy-In

“Buy-in” is often used to talk about agreement or permission, but you could easily say “approval” or “consensus.”

For Example

We need executive buy-in for this project. >> We need executive approval for this project.

24. Deep Dive

To “deep dive” means to examine something in detail. You could simply say “examine closely” or “analyze.”

For Example

Let’s do a deep dive into these statistics. >> Let’s examine these statistics closely.

25. Touchpoints

“Touchpoints” refer to the interactions between a customer and a brand, but “contact points” or “interactions” work just as well.

For Example

We need to improve our customer touchpoints. >> We need to improve our customer interactions.

26. Growth Hacking

Refers to unconventional strategies to grow a business quickly. You could say “rapid growth strategies.”

For Example

We need some growth hacking to boost sales. >> We need rapid growth strategies to boost sales.

27. Revisit

Refers to returning to a topic or issue for further discussion or analysis. You could say “re-examine” or “return to the subject.” It’s another way of saying “circle back.”

For Example

We’ll revisit this matter next week. >> We’ll re-examine this matter next week.

28. Actionable Insights

Refers to useful data or information. You could simply say “useful data” or “practical insights.”

For Example

The survey gave us actionable insights. >> The survey gave us practical insights.

29. Holistic Approach

A term often used vaguely to suggest that an entire system is being considered. “Comprehensive” or “all-encompassing” could be more apparent.

For Example

We take a holistic approach to marketing. >> We consider all aspects of marketing.

30. Unpack

“Unpack” means to explain something in detail. “Explain” or “analyze” can be used instead.

For Example

We need to unpack these findings. >> We need to explain these findings.

31. Game-Changer

An overused term for a transformative idea or action. “Revolutionary” or “transformative” works too.

For Example

This software is a real game-changer. >> This software is really transformative.

32. Low-Hanging Fruit

Refers to tasks, problems, or opportunities that are easier to solve or achieve than others. “Easiest tasks” or “most accessible opportunities” are clearer ways to describe it.

For Example

Let’s tackle the low-hanging fruit first to show some quick wins. >> Let’s tackle the easiest tasks first to show some quick wins.

33. Secret Sauce

Refers to a unique factor giving an advantage. “Unique advantage” and “special method” are clearer.

For Example

Our secret sauce is our customer service. >> Our unique advantage is our customer service.

34. Pain Points

Problems or challenges are often called “pain points.” “Issues” and “challenges” work, too.

For Example

We‘ve identified the customer’s pain points. >> We’ve identified the customer’s issues.

35. Cutting-Edge

Meant to signify something advanced or innovative. “Innovative” or “advanced” are less clichéd.

For Example

We use cutting-edge technology. >> We use advanced technology.

36. Onboarding

The process of integrating a new employee could be simply called “orientation” or “training.”

For Example

Our onboarding process is thorough. >> Our orientation process is thorough.

37. Win-Win

Means mutually beneficial, which could be stated directly as “mutually beneficial.”

For Example

This deal is a win-win. >> This deal benefits both parties.

38. Granular

Looking at something in detail. “Detailed” or “specific” are simpler alternatives.

For Example

We need a more granular analysis. >> We need a more detailed analysis.

39. In the Weeds

This means getting lost in unnecessary details. “Overcomplicating” might be clearer.

For Example

I think we‘re getting in the weeds. >> I think we’re overcomplicating things.

40. Scalable

Refers to something that can grow in scale. “Expandable” is a simpler term.

For Example

Our platform is scalable. >> Our platform can expand.

Streamline → Make More Efficient. Innovate → Create. Hyperlocal → Local.

41. Customer-Centric

Focusing on the customer could simply be called “customer-focused.”

For Example

We’re a customer-centric organization. >> We focus on our customers.

42. Optics

Refers to how something appears, usually to the public. “Public perception” could replace it.

For Example

The optics of this aren’t good. >> This looks bad to the public.

43. Bandwidth

Your ability to handle tasks could be described as “availability” or “capacity.”

For Example

I don’t have the bandwidth for another project. >> I can’t handle another project.

44. Wheelhouse

An area of expertise or interest. “Specialty” or “strength” are more straightforward.

For Example

This is in my wheelhouse. >> This is my specialty.

45. Double Down

To take a bigger risk, which could be simply said as “take a bigger risk.”

For Example

We’re doubling down on our marketing efforts. >> We’re increasing our marketing efforts.

46. Streamline

To make processes more efficient. This is sometimes just a euphemism for “cutting jobs.”

For Example

We need to streamline operations. >> We need to make operations more efficient.

47. Deliverable

An assignment or task that needs to be done. “Task” or “assignment” work just fine.

For Example

The report is a key deliverable. >> The report is a key task.

48. Innovate

Often used vaguely to mean making something new or different. “Create” or “improve” are alternatives.

For Example

We need to innovate to stay ahead. >> We need to improve to stay ahead.

49. Hyperlocal

Focuses on a very specific geographical area, which could simply be called “local” or “community-focused.”

For Example

We’re adopting a hyperlocal strategy. >> We’re focusing on the local community.

50. Disruptive

Used to describe innovations that significantly change an industry. “Game-changing” or “revolutionary” could replace it.

For Example

Our new product has a disruptive impact on the market. >> Our new product has a game-changing impact on the market.

51. Synergize

To work together harmoniously, which could be replaced with “collaborate” or “coordinate.”

For Example

We need to synergize our efforts for the upcoming project. >> We need to collaborate on our efforts for the upcoming project.

52. Value Proposition

Refers to the unique benefits a product or service offers. “Unique benefits” or “advantages” work too.

For Example

Our value proposition lies in our exceptional customer service. >> The unique benefits we offer are tied to our exceptional customer service.

53. Monetize

To generate revenue from something, which could be phrased as “make money from” or “earn revenue.”

For Example

We’re looking to monetize our online content. >> We’re looking to make money from our online content.

54. Thought Shower

Similar to brainstorming, it could be simply referred to as a “brainstorming session” or “idea session.”

For Example

Let’s schedule a thought shower to come up with fresh ideas. >> Let’s schedule a brainstorming session to come up with fresh ideas.

55. Value-Add

Additional benefits or features, which could be called “extra benefits” or “added features.”

For Example

Our product’s value-add includes extended customer support. >> Our product’s added features include extended customer support.

56. Disintermediation

Removing intermediaries in a process, which could be called “cutting out the middleman.”

For Example

Our platform aims to achieve disintermediation in supply chains. >> Our platform aims to cut out the middleman in supply chains.

57. Pivot

A significant change in strategy or direction. “Change course” or “shift focus” work similarly.

For Example

We need to pivot our marketing approach to target a new audience. >> We need to shift our marketing approach to target a new audience.

58. Future-Proof

To make something resistant to becoming outdated. “Long-lasting” or “resilient to change” work.

For Example

Our software is designed to be future-proof. >> Our software is designed to be resilient to change.

59. Omnichannel

Refers to providing a consistent experience across various channels. “Multi-channel” or “across all channels” work.

For Example

Our omni-channel approach ensures a seamless customer experience. >> Our multi-channel approach ensures a seamless customer experience.

60. Win the Day

To achieve daily goals, could be simply “achieve daily targets.”

For Example

Our team’s focus is to win the day by completing all tasks. >> Our team’s focus is to achieve our daily targets by completing all tasks.

61. Rightsizing

Adjusting resources or staff to an appropriate level. “Optimizing” or “adjusting” could replace it.

For Example

The company is rightsizing its workforce for improved efficiency. >> The company is optimizing its workforce for improved efficiency.

62. Push the Envelope

To exceed limits, which could be simply said as “go beyond.”

For Example

Our innovative designs aim to push the envelope in architecture. >> Our innovative designs aim to go beyond in architecture.

63. Hypergrowth

Rapid and exponential growth, which could be replaced with “rapid expansion” or “explosive growth.”

For Example

The startup experienced hypergrowth in its first year. >> The startup experienced rapid expansion in its first year.

64. Pushback

Refers to resistance or disagreement. “Resistance” or “opposition” are simpler terms.

For Example

We received pushback from the team regarding the new policy. >> We received resistance from the team regarding the new policy.

65. Benchmark

A point of reference for measurement. “Reference point” or “standard” work similarly.

For Example

We need to establish benchmarks for performance evaluation. >> We need to establish reference points for performance evaluation.

What We Sound Like When We Babble

You may think this can sound a little nit-picky, but when you hear babble words repeatedly, this is how it can sound:

I just got back from coffee with a thought leader who was generous enough to open the kimono about his new groundbreaking book.

As you‘re aware, his core competency revolves around unicorn innovation, and he’s hinted that there’s some disruptive potential coming down the pike.

I genuinely believe that our teams should initiate a synergistic dialogue to leverage our collective strengths and optimize for these forthcoming shifts.

It might be constructive to have a face-to-face ideation session where we can whiteboard potential strategies.

To really get the needle moving, perhaps we can co-create a dynamic presentation for the CEO to ensure we maintain our best-in-breed status in this ever-evolving ecosystem.

In any case, I don‘t want to boil the ocean here; I just aim to catalyze action that moves the needle. I’ll be out of pocket for the next fortnight, but please feel free to noodle on this while I‘m away.

We can punt this discussion to a later date, at which point I’ll ping you for a circle-back.

The Human We Could Sound Like

I just had coffee with Sarah, and she gave me an early look at her upcoming book on changes in the world of unicorns. I think both our teams should prepare for these new developments.

We can tackle it with the skills and resources we have, and if we find gaps, we can discuss with our CEO Andrea about what we might need. She’s keen to stay ahead in the unicorn market.

I‘ll be on vacation for the next two weeks, but when I return, I’ll schedule a meeting so we can catch up. Feel free to jot down any ideas or questions for our agenda while I’m gone.

Communicate with Clarity — Not Babble

As you go into your next work conversations, take note of when and how babble may come up. Is there a better, clearer way to say what you want to say?

If you want to strengthen how you communicate, follow these examples, and you’ll be sure that your message is received with clarity.

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