In the Professional Speakers and Seminar Leaders group at LinkedIn, author George Torok asked a seemingly banal and innocent question:

What annoying phrases from popular culture are speakers overusing in their presentations?

In the space of four days, over 60 people responded and it became a cathartic vent session for everyone who finds him or herself driven up a wall by presenter quirks. Here are a few of the ones that resonated the most with this group:

"No problem" (I never thought it was a problem, until you mentioned that it wasn't. Now, I'm not sure.)

If I hear one more person use the phrase "think outside the box," I think I'm going to scream!

"Am I right, or am I right?" That makes me want to say "no!"

"In my book…"

Misuse of the word "myself."

When presenters show up drunk for a presentation, trip on the stairs to the dais, and throw up on the lectern (that was submitted on April 1…)

"I feel your pain."

"Food for thought."

"I'm going to tell you a funny story." (Just tell it!)

"This is true story." (Aw come on, tell me a false story!)

"You've got to have passion." (I'm passionate about not wanting to hear that expression anymore.)

"At the end of the day" (…I'd rather be home than sitting here listening to you).

"At the end of the day" (…I go to sleep, which is what happens when I hear most speakers).

"Let me unpack this for you."


"May or may not." Well, that narrows it down now, doesn't it?

"To to be perfectly honest."Is there an imperfect way to be honest?

"Can I be honest with you?" No, please continue to lie to me.

I use "bottom line" probably ten times an hour, I am seeking help…

"Research has shown…" and "Some people say…" Quote the source or shut up. It's a weak way to bring up a counter-argument. It's backed by nothing yet used to validate.

We could go on and on here, but you get the idea: no shortage of annoying phrases that presenters adopt. What are yours??

6 Responses

  1. Rick – this list is great! Another overused phrase:
    “let’s take this to the next level”

  2. “Trust me.” Whenever anyone speaks those two words, I immediately think the opposite.

  3. “You see what I’m saying.”
    My reply is,
    “No, I don’t see what you are saying—I do hear what you are saying.”

  4. I have 2 buzz phrases to add. They can apparently be used alone or together for even less meaning:

    1. “That being said”

    2. “Going forward”

  5. “…in any way, shape or form.”
    And people who insist on starting almost every sentence with, “Now…” One presenter I heard used that word 18 times in a 7-minute presentation.