“Does that make sense?” A phrase that never does.
“Does that make sense?”
Four dread words that have spread like kudzu through the presentations of not only the advertising industry but all of American business. Let me make this as simple as I can. There is no reason ever to say these words out loud. Let us examine the two possible interpretations of them:
1. The speaker has grave doubts about the intelligence of his audience. Saying “does that make sense?” is pretty much the same as saying, “you people look rather stupid; should I repeat my point using shorter words?” Give them a little credit. The people in front of you figured out how to make themselves breakfast and found their way to the meeting all by themselves. If they’re not following what you’re saying, they’ll let you know.
2. The speaker has grave doubts about his own intelligence and/or command of the language. This does not inspire confidence in the people you are presenting to. In fact, it makes them want to get up and walk out of the room. If you’re not sure whether or not you make sense, sit down as quickly as possible and yield the floor to someone who does.
A good rule of thumb is that presenters should avoid doing things create in their audiences an urge to do violence. You now know the phrase that most provokes me. There are others, of course. I leave you with a link to an amusing piece about one of them by Robert Byrd, who has represented West Virginia in the U.S. Senate since–oh, I don’t know–the paleozoic era. It is called “The Spoken Weed.”