What’s the most overused word in public speaking?

Many professional communicators recycle certain terms ad nauseam. At first, ‘innovation’ and ‘influence’ may sound inspired, but after a while, they lose impact. One, however, tops them all.

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If the headline of this post pulled you in because you were certain of the answer, I’d like to first introduce a few equally worthy contenders.

Innovation.” In recent years, this contender has gotten a real workout. Many organizations often use “innovation” as the reason behind how they are going to stay relevant, expand their customer base and keep pace with rapidly changing consumer preferences.

This word has become the crutch of many executives who struggle to articulate their organization’s strategies and vision. Saying, “Harnessing innovation as a growth driver,” is the kind of empty nonsense that inspires parodies.

“Disruptive.” The misuse of this word is unparalleled, greatly because when it’s misused it implies a nonexistent intensity. I always chuckle when organizations with dated business models market their plans to “adopt a disruptive mindset and corporate culture.”

Marketing managers who use this word tend to work for organizations that lack the size and agility necessary to back up their claim. They are more likely to be disrupted than disruptors.

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