Cliché of the week: The bullseye

Doug Neff

Written by

Doug Neff

We need to stay focused.

Our numbers are right on target.

We made our goal!

When someone says those words, does your brain instantaneously call up images like the one to the right?

It does? Good. Then your brain is functioning appropriately.

Clichés are perfectly normal and perfectly natural. Your brain was designed to retrieve visuals quickly, and clichés are simply an imprint left on your brain-screen from the dozens of times it’s had to recall a similar image.

So when you read the short phrases above, your brain felt relaxed and cool. Like a warm, resonant, C major chord, everything seemed to fit together perfectly.

“Oh, yeeaah,” your brain was saying, nodding to the music and dragging on a clove cigarette, “that’s niiiiiice”.

So clichés make for easy brain-work. That’s a good thing. Relaxed brains are happy brains. [Hmm. Another opportunity for a cliché. Zombies?]

But a relaxed brain isn’t necessarily an engaged brain. And a relaxed brain isn’t necessarily willing to change its mind about anything just because you played it some nice music and gave it a cigarette.

And that’s usually what we’re trying to do with our presentations. (No, not give out cigarettes.) We’re trying to Inform, Inspire, or Persuade our audience.

And if we really want to get through to the ACTION centers of the brain, we need to use images that make those brains stand up straight, fling their cigarettes into the gutter, and take notice.

Believe me, there’s nothing wrong with clichés. I’ve used them myself many times, and clients often ask for them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with using clichés in a presentation.

Except for one thing:

You won’t be very effective. Your audience won’t buy your product, support your cause, or even remember your point. They’ll be happy and relaxed, and their brains will thank you on the way out. But a polite thank you is all you’ll get.

So let’s see if the combined creative power of this blog community can’t come up with something better.

The main idea: “Sales are on target for projected growth”.

How would you express that idea visually?

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