Office-speak and clichés are so well established, it’s easy to play buzzword bingo in management meetings. It’s less difficult to spot in writing, but a very easy habit to fall into.

Clichés can be a useful shortcut to getting your point across or painting a picture, for example ‘it’s like talking to a brick wall’ or ‘he’s got ants in his pants’. But used in the wrong context, or too often, and they damage your credibility and dilute your message.

So instead of trotting out the same tired cliches, go back to basics and ask yourself what the cliche is actually trying to say:

  • ‘think outside the box’ – some new ideas or creative thought
  • ‘let’s touch base later by the end of play today’ – I’ll give you a call before 5pm today
  • ‘can I give you a heads up on our new value-added proposition’ – we’d like to show you our great new idea

Another way of trying to cut your cliché count is to consider reading your words as if English wasn’t your first language. If they don’t make sense literally, then avoid them.

Remember, if your communication is specific and personal, rather than vague and generic, it will make your writing brighter, unique and more memorable.