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An Easy Fix: Getting Rid of Clichés Will Make Your Organization's Communication More Effective


Guest articles > An Easy Fix: Getting Rid of Clichés Will Make Your Organization's Communication More Effective


by: Robert Deigh


According to The Economist magazine, the English language has, at long last, exceeded a million words. The magazine goes on to admit that, um, maybe it's really not possible to know the exact number (e.g., is tsunami now an English word?). But let's just go with the premise. A million, give or take, is a lot of words; maybe there are a few extra words we no longer need, especially in business communication. Let' start with clichés.

This being a public relations newsletter, the point is that it's hard to get people to listen to your story if your communication is stale. Stop hoarding clichés that have crept into your communication. Substitute plain words that convey the same meaning. Your communication will be fresher and people will be more inclined to pay attention to what you have to say.

Go through your Web pages, your marketing materials, presentations, press releases and proposals and change everything into plain English. It's easy (and a guilt-free way to procrastinate doing actual hard work for an hour or so).

Where to start? Here is a small sample of business clichés to banish (and more reader-friendly replacements). Attending a presentation or all-staff meeting? Bring the list with you and check off each one you hear:

  • Drill down (look for greater detail)
  • Granular (more detailed)
  • At the end of the day (the net effect)
  • Take it offline (talk after the meeting)
  • No brainer (easy)
  • Close the loop (inform everyone who needs to know)
  • Low-hanging fruit (easiest to accomplish, reach, sell)
  • Push the envelope (exceed limits; set a new trend)
  • Win-Win (mutually beneficial)
  • On the same page (agree)
  • Future plans (just "plans" - ALL plans are future).
  • Task force (working group)
  • New and improved (it's either new, or old & improved)
  • Leading edge (innovative)
  • Get my head around (understand)
  • Mission critical (essential)
  • The perfect storm of...(the right conditions for..)
  • Touch base (contact)
  • Crunch time (near deadline)
  • On their radar screen (we have their attention)
  • Pick your brain (get your advice)
  • Slam dunk (see "No brainer")
  • Best of breed (most successful)
  • If you build it, they will come (there is demand)


Robert Deigh is principal of RDC Communication/PR and the author of "How Come No One Knows About Us?" (WBusiness Books, available May 2008), the PR guide for organizations large and small that want to win big visibility. Deigh helps organizations increase their visibility and build their brands by creating strong and positive relationships with the press and other audiences. He is also a well-known speaker and trainer on media and PR topics. Want more free info to build your business? Subscribe to Deigh’s popular monthly 1-page online newsletter “PR Quick Tips” from his website at He can be reached via email at, or by phone at 703-503-9321.

Contributor: Robert Deigh

Published here on: 19-Jul-11

Classification: Sales, PR



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