What Annoys You the Most?

In the Professional Speakers and Seminar Leaders group at LinkedIn, a contributor 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. Okay, I will admit it’s after hours on a Friday and I’ve had a couple myself.

“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.

Can I now be perfectly honest with you, give you some food for thought, and unpack this for you? This  did indeed come from a LinkedIn post and its responses. But it was nearly 16 years ago, April of 2008. What does it say that so many of these gripes resonate today? Is that astonishing, freaky, scary, or pathetic?

I’m not sure…what do you think…?

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