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.