Everything begins with attention. Attention is all about connection.

Words connect us, and when the right words are used, connections are deepened. In the busy lives of our attendees, production teams and property staff we need to be able to quickly get people’s attention!

Here are 10 ways to change attention – focus on the words you use and consider a few replacements for old, cliché, cheap phrases and words that don’t serve you and build your strong personal brand as an incentive and meeting professional.

1. Remove ‘but’ – No one believes what you say before but, only the words you use after it. Don’t replace it with ‘however’; simply make your point and stop talking. Eliminate your but.

2. Replace ‘problem’ with challenge – if you ever say to someone ‘you know what your problem is?’ … I bet they don’t want to listen! Problem is a negative word, use challenge or opportunity instead for a positive spin on a negative word and the team around you is more likely to help.

3. Replace ‘issue’ with challenge (the same reasoning applies to using the word problem. As busy meeting and incentive professionals every day includes a new challenge at an event, if we can stay positive during this process and calm we will achieve greater results.

4. Stop ‘shoulding’ on people. When someone says ‘you know what you should do?’ … do you listen? I don’t. Replace ‘should’ with ‘would you consider?’ It’s more inclusive language and has a positive impact on the listener… and it gets their buy in quicker if you need immediate help.

5. Remove ‘I can’t’ and replace with ‘I could do this, or I have the capacity to do this’ – look for a positive way to replace this. Incentive and meeting professionals are always being asked to do things outside the scope of the project, these phrases also make you look more like a leader and someone in charge of a situation.

6. Stop saying ‘they work for me’ replace this with ‘they work with me’ – it’s more inclusive language for everyone and we all know it takes a village to pull off some of our events.

7. Stop saying ‘my team’ and start saying ‘our team’. A friend and fellow speaker, Chad Hymas often asks ‘where can you replace the words I, me, my with you, we and ours’. Good advice.

8. Stop saying ‘take it to the next level’ – I hate that phrase (yep that’s harsh language) because it is an overused cliché, stop it and get more creative with your words i.e. accelerate results, create progress or improve performance – sound even stronger to your client.

9. I beg you to stop saying ‘push the envelope’ – just when I thought this crazy phrase was eliminated, I heard a senior executive use it in a meeting this week – blew my mind. Don’t use it.  Get creative use words like ‘explore boundaries’ or ‘overcome objections’ or ‘be more innovative or creative’.

10. Eliminate ‘outside the box’ – what a silly phrase. I am tiny; I could fit in a box, and this phrase always makes me giggle. Stop it, immediately. Use words like creative, innovative, ground breaking… and please avoid this overused phrase.

To make more impact as an incentive and meeting professional consider the language you are using and choose positive words that will have a greater impact on your client, your audience, the production team, the hotel staff and even the people you share your home life with.  Change your words; change the world!

What words or phrases drive you crazy at your events?

Love to hear them and share them with us or reach out on LinkedIn or Instagram, my favorite places to play.

Neen James

Neen James is the author of Folding Time™ and Attention Pays™. Named one of Top 30 Leadership Speakers by Global Guru several years in a row because of her work with companies including Viacom, Comcast, and Abbot Pharmaceuticals. www.neenjames.com