What are your guilty clichés?
Every industry has its clichés.
Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
He was as mad as hell.
Weak as a kitten, strong as an ox.
At the end of the day….
Clichés are shorthand
They show us that we have a shared language, and understanding.
They are grounded in shared experience and that means they are shared over time.
But time bleaches words of meaning. Words left open to the light from repeated exposure lose their vividness and colour.
The danger of the cliché is that we give our audience permission to zone-out.
When our audience can anticipate our trajectory, we give them permission to get comfortable. That’s not entirely a bad thing. If I turned up for a corporate presentation in my pyjamas, there would need to be a compelling reason, and it would need to be tied to a theme in order for it to make sense. If I didn’t, I would run the risk of being so disruptive that nobody would pay much attention to what I was saying.
That said, we so often run in a default mode of repeating the familiar that we lose the opportunity to be fresh.
“time passed like ivory beads on a black thread” – John Hawkes, Travesty
“a stately ice pudding of a cloud” – Patrick White, A Fringe of Leaves
“[The] city lay curled up below like an animal infested with electric lights” – Angela Carter, Several Perceptions
We have so many tools at our disposal to engage an audience, why leave it to the poets and the writers to create something fresh?
Clichés are not just our words, but our actions
Must every presentation be at the front of the room?
Are we doing the same things all of our competitors are?
Think about the kinds of clichés that are in your industry, and avoid them….
like the plague.