Buzzwords versus Fresh Language

Categories: Communication with an Artistic Difference,The Poetry of Persuasion

Powerful Language of Leaders


Question: How do you rid words in an organization that become the buzz of leaders and then get watered down?


A leader’s job is to consistently communicate the vision and mission of the organization. I love when entrepreneurial expert Dean Hamish said, “if they’re not mocking you, you’re not saying it enough!” On some levels, this is true for leaders who are trying to embed a particular language and a particular way of entering into the conversation of the work at hand. Repetition matters and you do need to convey the message over and over. Yet, mere repetition and use of buzzwords has the risk of coming off sounding inauthentic or insincere. That’s one reason why the language we use as leaders is so critical. Popular topics become buzzwords and then they become cliché. If you want your company to move from “good to great,” how else could you say that? If you want your team to “be on the same sheet of music,” what’s another way to express alignment and symphonic camaraderie?


I think use of metaphor, simile and analogy is essential in communicating complex or abstract ideas or initiatives, and this poses a challenge to a leader because some of these metaphors are rather tired: journeys, battles, mountains. What other ways can we describe the work of your organization or team? Are you cultivating and harvesting? Are you combining your talents to create a tapestry? Whatever you use, you want to try to be fresh, succinct and surprising, and be willing to take a sharp right turn when you need to get people’s attention and challenge them to think differently.



There wasn’t enough time to answer all the great questions posed during my recent Netspeed Thought Leader webinar. Over the next few weeks I’ll be addressing them here, stay tuned!

If you missed The Poetry of Persuasion: The Powerful Language of Leaders, you can watch a recording of the session and review the presentation slide deck here.







Libby Wagner
Author: Libby Wagner

Libby makes her home in a lovely West Seattle neighborhood in a house with turquoise walls and an amazing view of the Puget sound and Olympic mountains. A former Air Force “brat”, she continues to bounce from one corner of the world to the other, working with Fortune 500 clients, hopeful artists and authors, and aspiring entrepreneurs. She has a Master’s in Fine Arts and Poetry from Eastern Washington University where she also began working in the Writers in the Prison program.