Got a few more items for my “don’t ever say this” list from a speaker the other day.”Is it clear at all?” (Corollary: “Do you understand?” and “Got it?“) Realistically, what should the audience say? Half the audience immediately started bobbing their head enthusiastically and grunting. The other half just sat there, either mesmerized and bored or trying to figure out how to dissent. Since the smart people apparently got it, the opportunity to say, “No, this is a blabbering mess and I have no idea what you just said” has apparently passed. Better to make the audience articulate what you just said or what isn’t clear. “What was the most important part of what we just covered?” or “What did you get out of that?” or “What needs clarification in your mind?” (You should note the magic word of questions lurking there). Also, if you ask such questions, you MUST (this speaker did not) wait an uncomfortably long time for the listener to process — and potentially ask — the question.Another phrase to avoid heard recently is “This goes without saying…” which is ALWAYS followed by what they said they shouldn’t have to say. It’s an insult. (Corollary: “Some of you probably already know this…” and “I’ll just cover this quickly (they rarely do) for those that may not know.” Speakers should not highlight the marginal nature of their content. And we do not want to segment our audience and tell many of them that what we’re about to say does not apply to them (what am I supposed to do as an audience member if you announce you’re about to bore me to death?)The goal is to keep an audience’s attention and get them to focus on our (clear and concise) material. Phrases such as these water down our message and lose our audience’s interest.
Keep the focus on the material, takeaways, and call to action.
Enter your email for once monthly speaking tips straight to your inbox…
Absolutely correct, Alan. Along with your reasons for not saying such things is a very pragmatic one: speakers cannot distinguish themselves if they sound like every other speaker! Some readers won’t care about that, but anyone who is trying to grow their business or career through public speaking needs to be different. Avoiding cliches is one way to do so.
Or creating your own brand of cliche, I suppose. You are correct in standing out. People who can speak well will get more opportunities to speak than those who do not. And unfortunately (but fortunately for those who want to do well!) the bar isn’t very high.Thanks for commenting.A
We will see more and more differentiation between those who are professional and those who are not cognizant of the benefits of professional communique. You are a great example of that Alan.
I am a firm believer that those who can speak well will get opportunities that those who cannot will never see.