An Invasion Heading Toward Us
by Claudia Brogan
Watch out, grab your sturdy helmet, prepare to take action: there is an invasion coming. And it’s affecting public speakers and presenters nearly as frequently as newscasters and pundits.
Yes, that’s right. There is indeed an invasion going on. And I like to call it The Invasion of Over-Used and Unneeded Phrases.
Beware. These phrases and tired words can sometimes sneak into your presentations when you least expect them. Perhaps this might happen to us during our speeches, when we’re trying to sound well-educated and intellectual. Or it might happen when we are striving to emphasize a key point and want to draw attention to it.
However you look at it, these words can easily cause irritation in the ears of our listeners. Audience members can be at the very least put-off by these phrases, or at the most, irritated and critical.
Allow me to offer a few examples of what I’m referring to, then ask yourself what other phrases you would nominate for this Invasive List:
At the end of the day
It is what it is
Back in the day
That being said
Be that as it may
And additional phrases earn their right on this list not only because they’re invasive, but also because they’re incorrect!
Irregardless (there is no such word; though often-used, it is illogical)
My bad (this tired phrase makes no grammatical sense: may it find its exit soon)
One egregious turn of phrase can also be spotted in this invasion. If you, as a public speaker, study the language of people around you in various settings and situations, then I am certain that you have come across a very disappointing trend in customer service. In several business places, when a customer says a polite “Thank you,” the staff members have apparently been trained to say in response, “No problem.” This is such a disappointing trend, and is definitely less warm and less engaging than simply saying “You’re welcome.”
What can one do, in the face of these invasive, contagious phrases? Three things will help each speaker correct and remove these phrases from presentations: awareness, knowledge and action. First, be aware of these. The more carefully you notice these in your own language and in the verbal remarks you hear, the more attuned your own mind becomes when these phrases ring hollow. Listen carefully, pay attention. Secondly, knowledge: know why these are problematic including their being off-putting and unnecessary. Know how to reduce your usage of these phrases, such as regular preparation and practice for each presentation, as well as providing clear mindful delivery. Third, action: clean up and clear out these phrases from your own spoken and written language; clarity will emerge, and the invasive words will evaporate.
These are language matters. And these are some examples of what’s the matter with our uses of language. Why are these phrases crucial for us to pay attention to, as speakers? Because in fact: language matters matter…in how excellently you speak and in how well you are listened to.
Claudia Brogan is a speaker, trainer and facilitator who helps organizations by coaching presenters, leading collaborative meetings and problem-solving with groups and teams. Reach out to see how she can help you.