How to give a speech - real words for human beings
by Carmen Taran
Business presenters use too many clichés. Have you been in those presentations where people speak about a solution, a value added, or a paradigm shift? Have you heard presenters speak about customer-centric solutions, win-win situations, and holistic approaches? Do you feel connected to those who speak like this?
Buzz words do not build a connection because they are obscure and calorie-free. If you want people to focus on what you say and not switch to checking mobile devices during your presentation, avoid lazy clichés and greasy corporate talk in your presentations.
In order to avoid using corporate buzz words, we must first acknowledge the reasons why business presenters might be tempted to fall victims to faded language. There are four reasons:
- Glamorize words. Due to the fact that some business people do not have glamorous jobs, they embellish their words. This is why we often hear flowery phrases such as leveraging technologies and creating strategic alliances and creating knowledge-centric systems to maximize human performance – all of this instead of saying “we provide consulting services.” Instead of these big, empty words, use precise, fresh, and simple words that you would typically share with your friends around the dinner table.
- No expertise. When people speak about “global visions” and “available bandwidth” and “industry phenomena” – all these big words mask lack of knowledge. If these speakers knew what they wanted to convey, you would hear clear words, tasks and names of people, and specific information about what is happening and what needs to be done. Find examples or stories or props or numbers or concrete information to support your statements and avoid public speaking unless you are an expert in your domain.
- Deliver happy news. When speakers are afraid to acknowledge reality around them, they start using phrases like conspicuous non-success and thinking proactively. If quality has been down, say that it’s been down; if there is a flaw in your product, say there is a flaw; if you made a mistake, admit it. That’s when language becomes clean and builds a connection.
- Avoid accountability. Those who are afraid of commitment are more prone to corporate clichés. A good presentation involves speaking only when you fully believe in what you’re saying and are prepared to stand up for it no matter what. Being accountable purifies your language immediately.
You can see how these principles work in practice. Here are two cliché phrases that may seem innocent on the surface but give the wrong impression about what you offer.
“Best practices” - while acknowledging there are some standards you follow, this also implies insecurity about your direction. When you don’t know where you’re going, you’re borrowing from other people’s wisdom. It is more persuasive to say “we have developed a product or a service with original features”. Now I am more curious about what you have to offer.
Another tired phrase is “leading edge”. Everyone seems to be on the leading edge and it makes us wonder… how is this possible? If you typed in a search engine the phrase “leading edge,” check out how many results you get. Unless your products or services beat the other millions, avoid using “leading edge.”
To learn how to use memorable language in speeches and presentations, check out the Presenter Pro mobile app on the iTunes store, powered by Rexi Media.