Please Don't Say It!

At a recent networking meeting, the M.C., a very bright, capable woman and an excellent speaker, was outlining the program for the evening, highlighting the various events and speakers we were going to hear from. She knew how to use humor to liven up the laundry list of information she needed to convey and all was going along swimmingly, until the moment came to introduce the first speaker. And then she said, "So, without further ado, please welcome..." and gave the speaker's name.

            "What's wrong with that?", you might ask.       

            Nothing... or a lot. It depends what kind of speaker you want to be.

            That small, over-worked, and trite phrase says a great deal about the one who uses it. It's not the only tired phrase still assaulting our ears. There are many others. One of my favorites is "awesome," definitely a cringe-producing word. How many times a day do you hear someone say something is "awesome" when it isn't? Awesome used to be reserved for something really spectacular, mind-blowing, inspirational, one-of-a-kind. Now we give that classification to our breakfast cereal or toothpaste.

            Why do we do that? Why do we use words or expressions in a context where they're really inappropriate or repeat them mindlessly because we heard someone else say them and we want to be hip? What has happened to

expressing ourselves uniquely, giving some thought to what we say and how we say it?   Why do we let words spill out of our mouth without thinking about what they really mean?

            "Without further ado" was a popular phrase in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 21st century, most good speakers try to avoid such over-worked words and phrases because it's a sign of laziness, lack of preparation and lack of creativity. No one gets punished or penalized for using them. But they don't get applauded, either. Audiences are smart. They expect more from the person in the front of the room than just a repetition of the same things they've heard for years and years or hear every day on the street.

            So if you're the M.C., and you need to move the meeting along, instead of "without further ado", what might you say? How about, "It's now my pleasure to introduce...", or "Let's begin with...", or "Let's move on to..." or simply describe the next item on the agenda without any other preamble. Or make up your own. Each of these will move the program to the next step. You don't always need a transitional phrase. The audience will get that you're moving on to the next thing without you pointing a big verbal arrow at it.

            As for 'awesome'... it's a staple of teenagers' language and it isn't going away any time soon. But does it really belong in an adult presentation in front of an audience that came to learn something important from you?

            It's your choice. Look for more creative ways to express yourself. Find the words and phrases that are unique to you. One of the clues to being a unique and sexy speaker is to use language that makes you stand out from the crowd. Be creative. Your audience will applaud you for it!