21 Words and Phrases That Should Be Banned from Presentations

Posted on Jan 30

Because of what I do, I watch hours and hours of presentations and listen to lots of speakers.

And I met with a friend recently over coffee to catch up and we started talking shop.

What we realised is that there a number of words that we keep hearing (and I’m sure you do too!) that we’d be glad if we never heard again because they don’t really mean anything and people just say them to fill in the space.

But they can alienate an audience and most people are probably unaware that they are using them or of their detrimental effect.

So here are 21 that we came up with….

1. “Basically”

If the topic is so basic why are you even talking about it?


This often suggests that “you may doubt me,but this really is the truth.”

3. “We’re committed 120%……”

No. You are either fully committed  i.e. 100%, or not, you cannot give more than 100%!

4.“At this point in time”…… in other words now

5.Adding “wise” to the end of words

As in time-wise, weather -wise, date-wise.

6. “If you will”

What if I won’t?

7. ”Obviously..”

If it’s so obvious then why mention it and if it’s not obvious to me then I feel stupid for not knowing….

8. “At the end of the day”/” When all is said and done.”….. !!!

9. Adding “like” to the end of a word………

as in robot-like – the word is robotic!

or using “like” as a substitute for as……

10. “Without further ado”

most people have no idea what “ado” is….

11.  “As a matter of fact”

this is a longwinded way for saying “actually”

12. “Most definitely”

as opposed to  -”almost definitely” or “not quite definitely”?

13. “Very unique”.

This is one that really irritates me because it takes me back to my English teacher in high school who drummed this into me! because “unique cannot be qualified. It is either unique or it isn’t.”

14. “ With respect…”

which means they don’t

15. “ I’m glad to be here..”

Isn’t that a given? And if you’re not then why should I listen to you?

16. “Look…”

As in….look let me say to you… what am I looking at?

17. “Make no mistake”

A phrase used instead of certain

18. “So…”

As in – So, welcome … it’s become a crutch at the beginning of a sentence and is superfluous.

19. “ Literally…”

As in …. I’m literally dying to get started…. no, you’re not!

20.  “Going forward from here”

You can’t go forward from anywhere else, and would you really be going backwards?

21. “Absolutely”

e.g. Will it be finished on time- Absolutely!- why not just “yes”? This has been described as a “verbal virus that’s spreading unchecked

And I’m sure that there are lots more that come to mind.

So how can we eliminate these when presenting?
Here’s a few suggestions……

  • When listening to a person who uses words you dislike, be patient. Silently translate for them. Change the word or phrase you don’t like into one you prefer so that you still get their key message and are so are able to move past the distraction
  • Make a list of the words and phrases that bother you – because if they bother you then chances are they bother your audience too.
  • Notice whether or not you use them and if so how frequently?
  • Beside each one ,write alternative words/phrases  that you could use instead  that will get the meaning across in a different way
  • Aim to use three new versions in your next presentation

Because effective presenting is all about getting your message across in a clear, concise way that connects and engages with all of your audience, rather than irritate them!

I’d love to hear examples of the words and phrases that annoy you so please post them below!

Until next time….

with best wishes for your success,


Cath Daley Ltd.

If you want to find out more about how Cath can help you to completely get rid of the fear of presenting and become an outstanding presenter then why not schedule a free, no-obligation personal strategy call with her. Email and  mark it Strategy Session to set it up.

Tagged in , , , , ,
Posted on Jan 30 in Communication skills, Presentation Skills, Public Speaking

What's the Number 1 Success Killer for any presentation?Find out how you can avoid it...

and get your free download of the unique 7-Part Winning Presentations Mini-course now



  • Twitter

  • Upcoming Events

    • no upcoming events