Never Ever Use “Actually!” You Know? OK? Forsure….

Welcome to 2011. The next few weeks will continue to be a time of lists of the good, the bad and the ugly. The following represents the last of the trio. Maybe we can ask Clint Eastwood to “take care” of those who break the new speaker’s rule of “Never ever say the following again! Ever!”

Outside of the usual interrupter sounds we make, “um,” “ah,” while giving a speech or seminar, there are other words and phrases that have been so over used that any original meaning is now met with a shrug, yawn or a simple grunt. Over 140 professional speakers from around the world responded to simple question: What annoying phrases from popular culture are speakers over-using in their presentations?

My thanks to those who responded and to George Torok from Toronto for first posing the question on LinkedIn.

Here are the 140 statements and words, along with my commentary. My contribution here was “Actually,” actually. Now let me tell you about the rest…

12 step program Free at least, free at last. Thank God, I’m free at last.
24/7″ – 24/7/365 (366 on Leap Year) All numbers, all day, every day.
Above 10,000 feet Are we talking ski resort businesses like Breckenridge and Aspen here?  

You do know you should be wearing oxygen if you are up there for too long, right?

Absolutely There are only three things that are absolute – taxes, death and idiots like you.
Acronyms OMG, do you mean? Is the VA, APA and NIH all saying we have PLS? Can the DSM define it?
Actually In fact, say “in fact” if you mean “in fact.” Oh, how I actually hate this word.
Add value/Added Value Means it cost more and I can’t afford it, you give it away or lose the sale… Ummmm – Giving away something for nothing?
Along that line Another line? I have stood in too many lines today already! Let’s just cue. Que?
Alpha order Are you just too lazy to say “alphabetical,” or are you trying to conserve ink and pixels?
Am I right, or am I right? No, you’re not right and I will not let you forget it. Never!
Any word that precedes ‘team’ I personal like WWE’s “Women’s Tag Team”
Anyways This is not a word!!! “Anyway” cannot be and never will be a plural!
Are you with me? No, I am going to the other side – NOW!
As we/you all know… No, I don’t know. If I did know, I wouldn’t be here listing to an idiot like you!
Astroturf Astroturf needs to be removed from Major League Baseball also. Too?
At the end of the day… At end of my day, I go to sleep, which is happening right now as I am listening to you.
At this point in time… Is there another point in time I need to worry about? (See “Currently”)
Awesome OK, fine, kwel. Outta site – Sight? Cite? I am so confused.
Back in the day Funny, you don’t look like my great-grandpa. and you don’t look Jewish.
Back to the drawing board You did not think this through the first time, did you?
Basically Nah, the more complicated the better. Take Quantum Mechanics…
Beating a dead horse Can we please leave that poor horsey alone!
Bottom line Do the “Limbo!” – How low can you go.
Bring to the table Dinner’s ready!
By and large Does this mean anything? Really! Don’t make something up, I want a real definition.
Can we all agree? No. Period. End of story. Go away!
Carve out a niche I would rather carve a turkey, if you don’t mind.
C-Class Executives If they studied, they could have been A-class.  

Does this refer to the Mercedes these executives are driving.

Change your life today by… But I like my life the way it is.
Circle back That sounds a lot like “Come ahead back.” Ultra-conservatism at its worse. Reminds me of a wagon train and the Navajo are winning.
Cloud Computing This is only for angles, you little devil you. Now clouds do have electricity, so maybe my Mac will work up there, like Apple claims.
Come off the bench Why? I already played for five-quarters. Was I resting for too long?
Currently Like in right now? (See “Stay in the moment.”)
Deal killer Someone call the cops. CSI Miami! Detroit 187!! Barnie Miller!!!
Don’t go there… Too late! I was already there and back. Had a great time too… Also?
Drinking out of a fire hose. Who in their right mind would do something stupid like that? OK, who in their left mind?
Efforting Like in, “We are efforting to get that video feed to you soon”….what? You mean “working on,” “attempting” or “trying,” right? Is “efforting” even a word? Is it in the same category as “Anyways?” How about “Irrespectively?” Aaaarrrrrgggg!
Empowered Let me get this straight, you are giving me the power to succeed? To be virtuous? To do the right thing? Wow! Thanks! I could never do that for myself.
End all to be all The apocalypse has finally come!
Enormity That must be something enormal in the usual cents. Sense?
Enthusiasm I’m up. I’m dressed. I’m moving. What more do you want.
Fast forward 10 (or 5 or 20) years . I’m not done with the here and now yet.
First, let me say… No. I have heard what you are going to tell us before and it was boring then. Say something new and exciting.
Growing your business A little water – A little fertilizer – Some sunshine. What else is there?
Headwinds / Tailwinds Can you define that in terms of Liquid Dynamics, using Yachting or Aviation terms – You may be drowning or flying into cumulus granite clouds. (See “Cloud Computing.”)
High performing Above 10,000 feet. Wait, that’s another bit of unwanted jargon. Damn.
How are you all tonight? Let me ask around before I answer that.  

You really want to know. Let me tell you about my hemorrhoid operation. It was a pain in the ass.

How many of you have ever….?’ Not me. Never. Not once. And even if I did, I would deny it. And no jury in this country could prove otherwise.
How many of you… (A favorite with Speech students) If everyone answers “No,” can we all go home?
However… There you go again, changing your mind. (Sorry President Reagan)
I just want to be clear… You weren’t clear before, what makes you think you will be clear now.
Iconic / Icon Does the Second Commandment mean anything to you? 

You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. Poor Richard and his pal Benny Franklyn, are laughing in their graves. Grave? See, “Insanity is…”
If you have been living under a rock… Yes, I have been living there and it’s a nice rock. I’ve been waiting for Armageddon. (See: End all…)
If you were to ask me… I won’t, so forgetaboutit.
I’ll tell you something… I thought that was what I am paying you to do?
I’m excited to be here with you today. OK, that’s a scary thought. 

You’re getting paid, right?

I’m going to tell you a funny story Thank you for the warning.
Impact Like hitting the nail in the back of your tiny-little head.
In addition… I didn’t think I paid for a math seminar.
In my book… I did not read your book – for a reason!
Insanity is… You must be insane to use a Ben Franklyn quote that is overused in every sales seminar given. Ever!
Irregardless Idiot – This is not a word. And you call yourself edumacated!
It is what it is. Can someone please call President Clinton to define “it?”
It’s a no-brainer… Sorry, I have a brain. So what am I to do?
It’s such a privilege to be here… So, why don’t you pay us for the privilege of listening to you.
It’s transparent I’m naked? Oh, yes, this is about the security scanners at the airport.
Just between you and I And everyone else in the room and those who will watch this on the video-cast later. Another idiot.
Kill me now! PLEASE! I volunteer! I have been waiting for this moment.
Later today, we will learn… No, “we” won’t!
Let me be clear… Please. You have been using circle logic all morning.
Let me give you an example. I do not want to hear another story from you ever again… Ever!
Let me pick your brains… Not through my nose you won’t, fool. Just leave my brain alone.
Let me unpack this for you… Please, leave my bags alone. My undies are private! And don’t touch my brain!
Let’s drill down on that for a moment. I’m sorry, I did not know this was a oil drilling seminar.
Let’s take it to the next level Oh, oh, sex! Right?
Little boys/girls room I wear long pants now. So, where is the men’s toilet?
Low-hanging fruit Remember, that fruit is attached to branches so don’t go and hit your little head again. If we do hit it too many times, in the words of Foghorn Leghorn, “we’d be nothing but a nation of lump heads.”
Me and her went to…” or “Me and Charlie were…” No, no, no. English – Isn’t it, “Charlie and me were…?” Me teaches English, you knows.
Monetize Like Simonized, right? Are we getting waxed?
Moving forward, going forward, Going forward Forward is good. Backwards is good also.
My friends Sorry Mr. McCain. I am not your friend. Your fiend, maybe, but not your friend.
Net-Net Playing tennis-tennis?
No problem. If it was not a problem, why are you here?
None the less… I am not a math major, but…
“On the other hand” followed by “But then again” Please, for Odin’s sake, make up your freakin’ mind!
On the same page Wait! Wait! I haven’t gotten to that page yet.
One and done If it worked once, why not repeat the process then make it better?
Paradigm Shift Why should I shift models when I have not figured out the last one you told us about.  

Is a para-dime two nickels? Or a “pair a dime” twenty-cents?

Putting a new spin on… Damn, I am getting dizzy.
Raising the bar… Don’t do that. I am short enough and it is already hard to reach my beer. And what ever happened to “Lowering the Bar” for our Limbo contest?
Reinvent the wheel It’s round, right?
Research has shown Research has shown that people who use “Research has shown” would not recognize genuine research if it jumped out and bit them.
See what I mean Can you show me again, this time with PowerPoint and a movie?
Six of one and a half-dozen of the other Did you mean it to add to 12 or a dozen? Did you mean one-half of one and six-dozen of the other?
Sports analogies, comparisons and metaphors All of them hit a field goal and the score remains 5-nil. Just look at that putt run along the straight away. I can go one, but I am running out of gas.
Stay in the moment Which moment? Now?       Now?       What about now?
Sub-verticalised solutions Huh? – I have no freakin’ clue what this is, but it sounds cool.
Synergize I knew R. Buckminster Fuller and the definition of this word.Obviously, you do not. Bucky is rolling in his grave over this one.
Synergy R. Buckminster Fuller is rolling in his geodesic dome grave. Do you even know what it means? Can you guess? Think bigger.
Takes this to a whole new level Quite frankly, I thought it was a “hole” new level.
That “Or you can go for this, ‘cause this is where it’s at.” Thank you Hamsters.
That’s an interesting question Because you don’t know the answer, do you?
The fact of the matter is How do we know this is in fact “fact,” Jack?
The Law of Attraction Is this state or federal law? I hope it is not international. Wonder if my Senator approved that treaty?

I know, it’s American’s love affair with foreign oil!

The reality is… No. No. I want the fantasy! It is always much better.
The reason is because And this from President Obama’s mouth, none the less. (See “None the Less.”)
They may or may not Make up your freakin’ mind.
Think about this I came here to sleep and now you want me to think too? Also?
Thinking out of the box? There is nothing outside of the box. It is what my imagination can do with the box that counts. Ask any five-year old.
This causes a mental shut down… No. It is your dull presentation and over use of clichés.
This is a quality product The other product you showed us was not a quality product?
This is a true story (My dad’s favorite.) The other stories you told were not?
This is my favorite City No, it’s not and stop lying to us. You really prefer Trenton, NJ. (My apologies to my Jersey friends.)
Through the eyes of the customer… …come daggers and hate.
Throwing somebody under the bus Do we get a choice? Can we choose you? Please?
To be perfectly honest with you / Can I be honest with you NO!
To die for If I die for “it,” how can I enjoy “it.” What is “it” anyways? Will some one please call Clinton!
Toxic Like the sound of your tinny voice that people in the second row cannot hear because you cannot project? Or are you just talking about your ideas?
Under promise, over deliver Giving away things that you could be paid for again?
Walk the talk. By walking the talk are you saying that I suffer from “Foot-in-Mouth” disease?
Web 2.0 Or anything 2.0 What does this mean anyways? (Oooops)
What are the clients “pain points?” A kick to the knee. Slap to the ears.  A kick between the…
What I’m hearing you say is…. What you understand is not what I meant to say in response to you incoherent question.
What would you say if I told you Nothing. I already knew that. Tell me something new.
Whatever You know, like, um, OK.
You guys/Yous guys Only if there are no women in the audience.
You know You know, I don’t know. You know, this, you know, is, like, one of the worst, you know, phrases in the English language. Like, for sure… You know?
You may of heard of Harry Truman I live in Missouri, you idiot. Have you heard of Grover Cleveland?
You pressed a button here I did? I did not mean to press anything but my temples because of this headache.
You’ve got to have passion I love my job. I love my boss. I love my life. I lie well, huh?

About David Rosman

David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at, and
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38 Responses to Never Ever Use “Actually!” You Know? OK? Forsure….

  1. Bob MacPherson says:

    I had no idea that I had no idea when it came to speaking. This list will now haunt my days and nights as I prepare for my next presentation. All kidding aside (oops, should that be on the list?) the sophistication of our audiences is growing exponentially with the age of the internet and availability of so many forms of communication. But common sense in understanding your audience is still the single most important key to a successful presentation. I learned that lesson the hard way in my first speech about change and progress in a small town in Kansas. The phone calls I had for the next week were strong lessons for a novice speaker and I have never forgotten them.

  2. Denise Irish says:

    Thanks for this seriously superfluous speech augments!

    Excellent summary of our habits. I laughed and held my breath at some of the ones that I have used….

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