Synergy. Low-hanging fruit. Return on investment. These are just a few of the business buzzwords that are frequently thrown around in emails and meetings, as well as generally throughout professional settings.


Some people love to use them; others can’t stand to hear them. In fact, one study found that 1 in 5 people hate business buzzwords and corporate jargon.  Whatever your stance may be, one thing is certain, you can’t get by in today’s business world without running into at least one of these common expressions at some point or another.


But why are these recurring words, phrases, and idioms so popular in the workplace? What drives people to use them? And what do they really mean anyway? Are they just filler words, meant to demonstrate that the user is in-the-know, or do they actually serve a functional purpose?


We here at are fascinated by these workplace expressions. That’s why we’ve asked communications expert, The Business Voice Coach, Susan Room, to break down some of the most commonly used business buzzwords to get further insight into these popular (or, not so popular) office phrases:


“Every business needs clear, consistent business terms to ensure clear communication. But as well as conveying information, we want our words to be memorable, have an impact, influence and persuade,” Room said.


“Metaphors are great for doing this. When we use a metaphor, we describe or compare two things that are different but have similarities. Metaphors are never true and always culturally sensitive – so not everyone will understand them. Bear that in mind when choosing yours.”



Here are three of Room’s favourite business buzzwords and their true meanings:


  • To Put On Ice

When we put an idea, project or strategy “on ice,” we stop taking action, postpone, or delay it. The term comes from the 19th century habit of using ice blocks to store, preserve and prevent food and other perishables from decaying. Putting someone on ice means making them wait, causing them to feel out in the cold, which is a very different feeling to the one they’ll have when we put the champagne on ice to celebrate their return.


  • On My Radar

If you, your idea, or your business are on my radar it means I know you exist. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on why you are there. If it’s because I’m about to offer you your dream job, back your idea or invest in you you’ll appreciate my attention. If it’s because I’m thinking of making you redundant and putting your idea and business on ice, you’d probably prefer to be under my radar instead.


  • Paradigm Shift

Originally coined by philosopher Thomas Kuhn, a paradigm shift is a dramatic and revolutionary change that is caused by new ways of working and thinking. The pandemic brought about a paradigm shift in the pharmaceutical industry, speeding up the development and launch of new vaccines in ways that were inconceivable before. It also caused paradigm shifts in how we work (think remote and hybrid); how we live (think Great Resignation); and what we say (more people are asking for what they want and need and voicing their values at work).


Susan also explains what she thinks the business buzzword will be going into the new year:


“My big tip for 2023? SPILT. As people increasingly speak their truth, it becomes ever more important to consider not just what we say, but how we say it. SPILT stands for Speed, Pitch, Intonation, Loudness, and Tone. These are just five of the tools in your ‘vocal toolkit.’ You can combine and vary them in infinite ways to land your point and maximise your impact.  Take loudness, for example Saying something quietly and authoritatively in a shouty meeting may not be the obvious thing to do, but if you do it well, it can be just what’s needed to turn the meeting around.”


Buzzword Brainteasers

There are five common office phrases hidden in each image below – can you decipher the popular business buzzwords in the brainteaser below? Phrases to find:


  1. Low hanging fruit
  2. Brainstorm
  3. Stick a pin in it
  4. No-brainer
  5. Ducks in a row
  6. Circle back
  7. Touch base
  8. Extra mile
  9. Put it on ice
  10. Think outside the box





Answers revealed below…