Everyone has a go-to phrase that can get on people’s nerves. It’s a force of habit – you hear a specific way of putting something and you use it a couple of times, then before you know it, you’re trotting it out every single day. Don’t worry, though – companies are worse for it, and there’s no worse place to demonstrate this than through a video.
The whole point of a video – whether you’re explaining yourself or simply giving a corporate speech of one sort or another – is to bond with your audience. As soon as you use a phrase that’s understood internally but not to a wider demographic, you’ve lost them. You also sound like a bit of a tool.
This list is demonstrative and so far from exhaustive it hurts – but one day, I’ll write that book. Until then, here are some phrases and tactics that I’ve heard in my recent career, away from the sensible four walls of Stada (where no nonsense prevails, thankfully). All of the following methods will basically shoot down the success of a video or, well, any effort to sound like you know what you’re talking about.
This is not as in “taking action”, but “to action”, or “actioning”. With the latter, even Microsoft Word tries to force you into “auctioning”, and full credit to it for doing so. Seriously though, why tell a viewer that “you need to action this” when you can say “you need to do this”? “Do” is shorter, leaner and, well, makes sense. Don’t turn a noun into a doing word. It’s wrong. You also run the risk of sounding super corporate. We’ve all been in meetings at work where the corporate jargon is busted out:
“I want us to start actioning the Cooper campaign. Let’s really get our ducks in a row on this one guys. Essentially, I want to see blue sky thinking and real synergy throughout all departments”
It has it’s place in a professional environment, but it doesn’t translate well on camera. You don’t want your video to sound like someone doing a powerpoint presentation in front of a room of board room of disgruntled employees. Visit this site for some corporate jargon related funnies (if you can stomach it).
E-<insert anything here>
Email is completely fine. E-commerce is okay. E-tailers, though? Give me a break. Sometimes the “E” prefix really takes the mick, as if there’s some kind of conspiracy to get a phrase into the Oxford English Dictionary, much in the same way they tried to Jedi the Census a few years ago (I know, I turned a (pro)noun into an adjective, I’m sorry. I’ve been in the industry too long, it seems).
Thinking of adding “E” to the beginning of a word? Don’t, that’s my advice.
I’m still to meet someone who, in the business world, cannot define what “holistic” actually means. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve heard over half a dozen definitions of holistic and not one of them is correct. It’s a word that perfectly demonstrates two things: that you really may not know what you’re talking about, and that if you’re forcing your viewers to look a phrase up to understand it, they probably won’t, and so your message will disappear into the ether – even if you use it correctly. Don’t say things in the vain hope of sounding smart in the belief that you’ll get away with it, because you won’t.
also….something to do with massage? That’s all I’ve got.
Whether it’s an internal video or something you’ll be putting on your website, referring to people as “Clients” and not “Customers” is the best way to go. The word “Customer” references someone who is paying for services, which then brings money to mind – not the most romanticised view of business. However, a “Client” is someone who is valued, which sounds much more warm and fuzzy. And don’t worry – you won’t end up sounding like a law firm.
When was the last time that you ever said “moving/going backwards” in the context of working with a client? You don’t because, well, you don’t move backwards. Unless you work in haulage and you’re leaving a car park.
Someone once told me in my previous job that “we’re in the process of onboarding a client”. At that moment, in my mind, I saw the CEO of our recently-signed hotel donning an orange jumpsuit and being waterboarded, while assembled client service assistants asked him questions about the company. People should really stop making verbs from things that should never be verbs.
Don’t tell someone to do some pre-planning. It’s called “planning”. You can’t plan to plan. That’s just ridiculous.
Overloading on numbers
Although its tempting to throw impressive statistics at people, it could have a negative effect; too many numbers is an information overload, so much so that it could end up going over people’s heads. Not to mention that quoting loads of statistics is the numerical equivalent of name dropping. Knowing when to use statistics to your advantage is a priceless skill to have.
Being accidentally patronising
Finding a way to communicate your message without sounding like you’re pandering is a very difficult line to tread. On one hand, you don’t want to not explain yourself – otherwise people won’t understand you. But on the other hand, over explaining to the point where it sounds as if you’re talking to a child will come across as patronising and perhaps a little bit insulting if you get the wrong person watching it on a bad day.
This one is all about balance – word economy and tone will help you out a lot here.
And lastly…taking 3 sentences to make one point
You don’t want your video to have the same kind of tone as a legal contract. There’s a reason that contracts are so wordy and often easy to get lost in, and you should want your video to be the exact opposite of that. For example.
“Here at Recruitment Company, we have honed our craft over the last 17 years to bring you the most qualified staff who are of the highest standard and throughly vetted. Our practiced internal processes mean that we’re able to supply you with staff whether on short term contracts, permanent employment, or training level, faciliating your needs at whatever stage of recruitment you’re at with our fully inclusive and rigorously tested matching formula.”
Yes, that gets in all the relevant information, but…it’s long and wordy, and the sentence structure isn’t great. It also doesn’t roll off the tongue well as a spoken piece.
Let’s try again…
“Here at Recruitment Company, we’ve been matching businesses with the highest quality workers for the past 17 years. We can provide staff across the entire spectrum of recruitment, from short term contacts, permanent employment and training schemes.”
This one gets the important stuff in, whilst retaining a more conversational tone but still being formal enough. Most importantly, it isn’t a mouthful to say.