Writing your presentation

5 business phrases that make you sound like a corporate fool

Maybe I’m in a bad mood today, but there’s a bit of a rant.  I got the idea the first five minutes of a speech by a management consultant in 2008 so don’t think I’ve made it up. It was a quite brilliant mix of cliché, banality and diffidence that delivered a well deserved 30 minutes sleep to the audience that had paid $800 to be there.

The point is that some phrases that are cliches are useful. Some are not. These phrases are not useful because they just take time, oxygen and patience away from the room you’re in and the people you’re with, and make you look like something you’re, most probably, not.

It doesn’t mean you can’t ever use the phrases again but be warned that they have moved beyond their ‘use by date’ and are beginning to smell rather badly.

  • Value-added- In my grumpy head, means you’ve swallowed a text book, got an MBA or wish you had an MBA -try saying ‘worth doing’ instead.
  • Going forward- means absolutely nothing- try saying nothing else and moving on to the next point or be mischievous, and say ‘moving backwards’ instead and at least challenge us to ask what you could possibly mean.
  • Bottom line- means you learned business from 1970’s films about advertising and think that’s the height of hard-edged commercialism- try saying ‘profit’ instead and you’ll get to the end quicker too.
  • Synergistically – means you’re American and are deliberately trying to say things in as complex way as you can to impress us before you send us an outrageous invoice for your services. Why not – try saying ‘by working together’
  • Any metaphor that includes flag-poles or saucers of milk- Because such a metaphor was used, as far back as 1956, to show how advertising executives can be mindless spouters of meaningless hogwash,  in the great, Oscar winning film ’12 Angry Men’ with Henry Fonda.

If it was used like that then, what do you think it says of the user now?

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