• Alison Deyette

Words and Phrases Your Spokespeople Should Stop Using

We can all agree that some phrases and corporate jargon have become too familiar in media interviews. And unfortunately, they’re annoying for journalists and audiences alike. After all, misused, modified, filler words and meaningless jargon only ruin your chance to speak directly to your audience.

Therefore, ensuring that your vocabulary is free of such words and phrases is crucial, as they only tend to be stumbling blocks in media relations. So, here’s a list of some words and phrases your spokesperson should stop using.

Thanks for having me on the program/show- This is a dull start to an interview. Since broadcast interviews are usually short and precise, such a needless exchange eats into the time you should be using to express your message. Skip it and get to the interview.

You know, like, you know what I mean- When a person litters their language with too many ‘you know’ or ‘like’ I start wondering if they’re prepared and are the appropriate person to be on air. I either dismiss the segment or start counting the number of times they use the word. And when I hear “you know what I mean” too often during interviews, I cringe, internally scream, and assume the person doesn’t have an engaging story to tell. I’d rather you use a few umms and errs as minor fillers in your story.

We’re not here to discuss that- This phrase makes the spokesperson sound uncomfortable and defensive. To avoid this phrase, try using a media training technique such as bridging when introducing a broader topic into the interview.

That’s a great question - When used repeatedly, this phrase can be distracting. However, if used sparingly, it can help you buy some time before responding to an unexpected question.

Thoughts and prayers- Do you roll your eyes like me when you hear politicians and just about anybody in front of a camera say this? It’s so overused it sounds like a hollow gesture.

Our message is- This makes your responses sound rehearsed. Instead, try, ‘something I’d like people to remember is….’

Touchpoints – Yet another term of corporate jargon. Tell the audience what you actually mean instead of using this.

Put the customer at the center of everything we do- This should be the goal for most companies, but we’re seeing more often that it’s not the case. Sure, it sounds nice, but it’s often vague. Instead, show examples of the lengths you’ve gone to for your customers.

At the end of the day- Cut out this verbal clutch and get straight to the point.

With all due respect- This phrase is usually used when they don’t want to answer a question asked by the interviewer, it’s made them uncomfortable, or they believe the other person is wrong. They’re likely thinking - ‘your question or view is idiotic.’

Reach out- Yet another boardroom phrase that shouldn’t be used in the media. A better alternative is ‘contact us.’

No comment- The phrase immediately suggests the spokesperson has something to hide. Be prepared with a way to move the conversation back to your topic.

As I said earlier- An easy way to tell the journalist and audience you’re frustrated and may encourage the interviewer to drill further.

I think- We all use this phrase in our daily life, but in media interviews, the phrase signifies uncertainty. Avoid the phrase to sound more authoritative. Consider, “I believe” as an alternative.

We are sorry if- A typical non-apology apology. It shows you’re not actually sorry; it’s the other person who’s too sensitive.

Thoughts and prayers- Do you roll your eyes like me when you hear politicians and just about anybody in front of a camera say this? It’s so overused it sounds like a hollow gesture.

Humbled- People use this phrase even when they don’t actually mean it. In most cases, they mean to say they are honored.

To be clear- A favorite of politicians when responding to questions asked. All answers in media should be clear, so this is unnecessarily ambiguous.

Honestly- When said, I wonder if you are being honest. While honesty is a good trait, using the phrase in media interviews can cause suspicion.

Myriad- I like the word, but if you find that you’re using it too often try ‘countless’, ‘many’, ‘numerous’, or ‘multiple’.

Traction- You can better convey progress towards specific goals using words like growth, achievement, and momentum.

Groundbreaking/Game-changing/ Revolutionary- All these phrases sound boastful. Be sure the message fits in this category. Is it as groundbreaking as NASA’s James Webb telescope?

Disruptive- While the phrase has become common in interviews, few people understand it.

Robust- Another overused word that could easily make your audience lose interest and make your message lose its impact.

With Being Said- Please stop. I’m hearing this useless phrase on repeat in countless interviews. It’s saturated conversations and I hope it stops.

About Alison

Alison Deyette is a TV host, brand spokesperson and media training/on-camera coach. She has helped brands, executives, on-air personalities, aspiring hosts, experts and a long list of Fortune 500 companies develop and express their messaging and editorial content for television, web series, social media, corporate video and print publications. As your media trainer and on-camera coach, she’ll help to transform you into a powerful, confident and focused speaker or personality, ready to share your message with the world! She is the regular lifestyle expert for Access Live, KTLA Los Angeles, Inside Edition, Access Hollywood and regularly works with brands on HSN, QVC and other networks.