Fit Focus Flair

Lesson 3: Avoid cliché like the plague

In the ” Dictionary of Plain English”, the editor A.G. Fowler says…

“Hackneyed phrases become hackneyed because they are useful in the first instance; but they derive a new efficiency from the very fact that they are hackneyed.”

I think he means that clichés can be useful if you use the right ones. Use the familiar phrase if it expresses your meaning clearly, but not simply because it is familiar. Then it becomes lazy.

“Dog-tired” is ok, “sick as a parrot” is not.

“Original thinking” is OK, “Blue sky thinking” is vomit worthy

“From start to finish” is OK, “chapter and verse” is hopeless

“Starting tomorrow” is OK, “Going forward” is horrible.

Go to the fourth lesson in this series – using visual imagery.

This is a part of my Fit, Focus & Flair model. To be great, a presentation must be a perfect FIT for the situation; the content must have complete FOCUS on it’s purpose and message; and it must have enough FLAIR to stand out on the day, and in our memories. Learn more about developing your Fit, Focus and Flair.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey


  1. Pingback: Lesson 2: Remove business jargon… blah, blah, blah

  2. Pingback: Lesson 6: Use everything in the verbal bag of tricks, but sparingly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To Top