Banish These Words

I always instruct my presentation skills clients to do their best to avoid common clichés and phrases. The goal is to be unique, and when we spew common clichés, we become forgettable. We need to be original to be heard. To that end, one of my favorite web sites is the annual list of banished words published by Lake Superior State University.  Anyone can recommend a word for banishment (is that a word?!), and the best part is the reader commentary, of which I’ve selected my favorites. My favorites from last year, and the ones I am guilty of over-using:


Teachable moment

“This phrase is used to describe everything from potty-training to politics. It’s time to vote it out!” – Jodi, Youngstown, Ohio.

In these economic times

“When someone prefaces a statement with ‘in this economic climate,’ it starts to sound like a sales pitch, or just an excuse on which to blame every problem. And if a letter or e-mail message from your employer starts with this phrase, usually it means you’re not getting a raise this year.” – Dominic, Seattle, WA


Toxic assets

“Whatever happened to simply ‘bad stocks,’ ‘debts,’ or ‘loans’?” — Monty Heidenreich, Homewood, Ill.

Too big to fail

Transparent /Transparency (guilty!)


“Heard everywhere from MTV to ESPN to CNN. A bothersome term that seeks to combine chillin’ with relaxin’ makes me want to be ‘axin’ this word.” – Tammy, Sault Ste. Marie, MI