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Phrases to Avoid in Professional Speeches and Public Speaking

Posted by Shivali Anand

April 8, 2022    |     4-minute read (789 words)

When it comes to communication in the workplace, the words we use have considerable power to affect not only teamwork and morale, but also business outcomes. According to a research, the business phrases used by leaders can inspire productivity or unwittingly confuse team members. To succeed in business, you must be mindful to use clear language and to avoid silly “filler” phrases.

Filler expressions should be dropped

When it comes to business communication, using vague, meaningless expressions can devalue your message and cast your abilities in doubt. Many business communication problems boil down to poor word choices and careless language uttered out of habit. Disengagement, reduced productivity and financial losses are potential consequences.

Consider that empty business jargon is unoriginal and bores listeners. Here are a few examples of useless terminology that your listeners will appreciate you eliminating from your business communications

Examples Phrases to Avoid

1. New normal:

The phrase "new normal" has become an obsolete cliche after two years of working from home. Experts say that with the worldwide pandemic, there will be no "normal," and that we must all learn to adapt.

Professionals should avoid using the phrase "new normal" and instead embrace the notion of "next to normal," according to John E. Walker, founder and managing partner of PR agency Chirp. "As the world and society evolve, so does business and we should consider the next pandemic phase to be the next normal," Walker added.

2. Cutting-edge, state of the art

These overused and trite phrases add nothing of value to your communication. You need to be able to express how your product or service benefits customers in the real world rather than using tired cliches. Consider using words like advanced, latest, purpose-built or high-performance instead.

3. Strong culture

The term "strong culture" has become a cliché. It fails to express what, exactly, that culture entails or what distinguishes it from others to merit the adjective “strong.”

"When I read that a company has a strong culture, I often wonder if it's a culture where people are encouraged to grow and to work together or if it's a culture where one is expected to be on-call 24/7 and compete for advancement," said Deborah Farone, founder of Farone Advisors.

4. Paradigm shift

The term "paradigm shift" has become overused and sounds unoriginal. Instead, explain the change and why it is essential to listeners to make them care.

5. Now, more than ever

The phrase "now more than ever" is trite and implies a lack of historical knowledge. There have always been difficult periods, and the current pandemic is the most recent example. To offer context and explanation, use the words "better than” or “greater than.”

6. The leading …

Every business claims to be the industry leader in some way. Who is the true leader if everyone claims to be the one? 

"Use that precious space to define who you are and why you matter," said Erica Morgenstern, Welltok's Chief Marketing Officer. "That's more important than trying to say you are a leader in a category or space with a bunch of qualifiers around it."

7. Innovative solutions

Every technology company claims to provide "innovative solutions." However, it does not convey what distinguishes them as innovators. What dfferentiates their invention or idea from that of their competitors? 

It is much better to be precise and provide examples to demonstrate success. For example, "We help businesses use artificial intelligence to decrease financial errors" is more powerful than "We offer businesses innovative financial solutions." 

8. Putting people first

The phrase "putting people first" has lost all meaning. It is preferable to discuss what specific efforts will benefit your company and its stakeholders.

How to say it better

Here are other top offenders in the realm of overused, passive-sounding “corporate speak,” alongside classier and more direct alternatives.
Instead of Consider this
This is exciting Explain why it’s credible, effective or persuasive
You can leverage Replace leverage with use, capitalize on, take advantage of or harness
Differentiate yourself Stand out as a unique asset or be your own best advocate
I want you to finish that report by tomorrow Would you be able to finish that report by tomorrow?
Now that article looks better The article looks even better
I think this is a bad idea I don’t think this is such a good idea
Please do not hesitate to contact me Please call me/schedule a meeting if you have any questions
I hope you’re well/I hope this email finds you well I hope you’re having a great day/week
Sorry for the late response Thank you for your patience
Game-changing Evolutionary, transformational
Be on the same page Agree, support
Take ownership Take responsibility

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