Audiences, Prospects & Clients Are Leary of Lazy Language

Executive Speech Coach & Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE
Executive Speech Coach & Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

It is my mission to clean up sloppy language. I share this from my friend Craig Harrison.

Stop Slingin’ Slang!
By Craig Harrison

Despite attention to memorable press kits, meticulous grooming, and marvelous websites – speakers, trainers, and consultants often undermine their hireability through sloppy language and inappropriate word choices. Similarly, employees hurt their chances of being promoted with these kinds of verbal blunders. What’s the point of shined shoes and polished purses if we’re constantly making ourselves look bad with our own words?

Slang is Sloppy – Precision is Preferred

Professionalism counts in the work world. The use of proper English demonstrates good taste, good schooling, and an understanding of professional protocols. Avoid slang. You’re not a short-order cook! Slang is a shortcut that suggests excessive informality and a lack of appreciation for the workplace setting and expectations.

I wish I had a nickel for every consultant who told me he or she was gonna do something! Gonna is gutter. Replace all uses of gonna with going to and demonstrate to others that you are truly a professional with plans. Gonna is what an elementary school student will do when the recess bell rings. Going to is what dedicated and focused professionals intend to do, a part of a strategic plan, an act with intention.

Sadly, very unique isn’t. Unique by definition means one of a kind, unparalleled, without peer. Adding very in front of unique is as meaningless as doing something 110%, 115% or 150%.

Prove you’re a graduate by knowing the differences between alumni, alumnus, alumna, and alumnae.  Taken from the Latin, alumnus refers to a single male graduate and alumna refers to a single female graduate. Alumnae is the plural of alumna and refers to multiple women graduates. Alumni is the plural of the masculine alumnus, but has come to refer to multiple coed graduates.

Figuratively vs. Literally

When you say you could “eat a horse,” you are speaking figuratively. Only the Donner party meant it literally. One consultant told his client that he “literally killed” to get a past job. Really? Who wants to hire a murderer?

Degrees Are Important

So is understanding the degree to which you are in favor or opposed to something. Don’t get a third degree burn! When you tell people you are “360° opposed” to something, they won’t hire you since you obviously failed geometry. 180° denotes complete opposition. Once you’ve rotated 360° you’ve come full circle and are back where you started from. (Do not pass go. It’s back to square one!)

More Than vs. Over

Over is a preposition and generally refers to spatial relationships: “The plane flew over Sacramento.” Use more than when referring to numbers: “Silicon Valley has more than 10,000 programming jobs.”

Myriad vs. A Myriad of

Myriad means many.  If you say “He has a myriad of problems,” it is as if you are saying, “He has many of problems.”

Don’t bother asking about renumeration. You’re ineligible, because you won’t be retained. The correct word is remuneration, which comes from remunerate, meaning to give someone money or to pay, which you will be, if you can master the correct word.


There is no such word. Regardless of what you’ve heard, the correct word is regardless.

Interred vs. Interned

If you worked without pay, you interned. Ironically, if you were interned this word also means you were imprisoned. As bad as that is, if you say you interred, it suggests that you placed bodies in graves! Unless you are working in the death care industry, stick with interned.

Presidents and Olympians Are Forever So

Everyone wants respect but nobody gives it anymore. When you speak of a United States president such as Bill Clinton, George Herbert Walker Bush, or Jimmy Carter, they are still President Clinton, President Bush, or President Carter. When you refer to Olympians Mary Lou Retton, Billy Mills, or Peggy Fleming, they are still Olympians (not past or former Olympians). Even ones who did not medal will forever remain Olympians.

Pronouncements on Pronunciation

Just so you know, although shift happens, paradigm is and always has been pronounced “pair-ah-DIME,” not “pa-ra-DIG-EM.” 
Yet these days alternate pronunciations are plentiful: harassment, nuclear (nucular was also acceptable until January, 2009), and database (pronounced “dah-ta-base” or “DAY-ta-base”).

By the way… the singular of data is datum. The plural of stadium is stadia. Media is plural for medium. TV is a medium. Radio, too. Print (a.k.a. newspaper) is another. TV, radio, and newspapers together are media.

Patricia Fripp and Craig Harrison
Patricia Fripp and Craig Harrison

It is a fact that people prefer to do business with those they know and trust. Speaking well builds trust. The proper use of language demonstrates your professionalism and suggests that you will adhere to other standards of business excellence: honesty, fairness, and service.

When you speak well, the world respects you and wants to do business with you. Can ya dig it?

Professional speaker Craig Harrison founded Expressions of Excellence!™ to provide sales and service solutions through speaking. Visit: For more articles, tools, and tips for speakers visit:

Thank you, Craig!

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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp is hired by individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.