10 Phrases that Make You Sound Like a Noob Eventprof

Instilling confidence in your work and abilities is one of the best things you can do for your career. If you’re using any of the following phrases, you’re robbing yourself of that outward appearance of confidence.

Imposter syndrome: a term coined in the 1970s by psychologists Suzanne Imes, Ph.D., and Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., and made popular again in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, is a feeling that you will soon be exposed for a fraud. Strangely, this condition doesn’t plague con artists. It affects those of us who do know what we’re doing but often feel insecure about it.

We imagine someone will discover we’re not as capable as we portray. While for most of us this is an imagined fear, and not one that is or will come true, for some event professionals it just might if you use these phrases.

  1. Literally Using Literally All The Time

Okay, so this isn’t specific to event professionals but is incredibly distracting to anyone over 30. Using the word “literally”, when you mean anything but that, might not make you sound like a noob event professional but it does discount anything you say.

When I hear someone say “I’m so hungry, I could literally eat a horse.”, I want to literally serve them one.

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  1. Ending Your Statement on a High Note

Going out on a high note is a good thing. Ending a statement sentence in a high tone makes it sound like a question. Telling your client, “The additional AV requirements will cost $500.” is something that must be conveyed with confidence and not a question.

  1. Saying “I’m Sorry”

Are you apologizing for a mistake or is it just a space filler? If you’re late for a meeting with the client or venue, you should be sorry. If you disagree with someone, an apology is not necessary; it’s undermining your self-confidence.

  1. Injecting “Just My Opinion”

Of course it’s your opinion, it just came out of your mouth and you didn’t credit anyone else with the idea. But using that phrase either downplays the importance of what you are saying or sounds snarky. Which would you prefer?

  1. Using “I Know” When You Don’t

If your client is telling you something for the first time about their business, and a topic you don’t know much about, refrain from using the phrase “I know” as an affirmation. When taken literally the person will assume you are saying you already have that information. If they know you don’t, you simply sound like a know-it-all. Seasoned event professionals are secure enough to admit they don’t know everything.

  1. Starting a Sentence with “Honestly”

Are you admitting that all sentences coming out of your mouth before your “honest” pronouncement were all big fat lies? Of course not, so fight the urge to throw honestly in. Honestly, we would hope that all uses of your words are genuine. An event professional doesn’t leave himself/herself open to that sort of scrutiny. They assume they will be taken for their word so they don’t feel the need to inject qualifiers into the mix.  

  1. I Can’t Pay You But…Think of the Exposure

Unless you are volunteering for a charitable organization and hoping vendors, sponsors, and speakers will do the same, telling people you can’t pay them but can give them plenty of “exposure” shows that you are fairly new to this industry. Yes, there are times when your budget is slim and yes, in some cases payment looks more like money for an ice cream cone, but if you’re looking for professional people, you had better find a little something in the budget, especially because what you’re asking of them often involves a cost on their end such as travel or a day away from their business.

If you really can’t pay even an honorarium of some sort, don’t talk about exposure. Be upfront about it on your first approach and try to figure out a more defined and mutually beneficial arrangement of additional perks or things you can do. “Exposure” is a word most professionals hate in the social media age.

  1. Asking an Attendee “So, Is This Your First Time?”

You are the data master. You should know if it’s the attendee’s first time or not. Some event planners even find ways to designate newbies on name tags so that no one asks that awkward question to someone who’s there faithfully every year. Asking that question to a true newbie may go by without notice, but asking a return attendee those words is a good way to upset someone. Everyone wants to believe if they weren’t there, they’d be noticed, so asking if it’s their first time is akin to saying “I’ve never seen you before. You don’t matter.”

Even if it’s a big event, and you couldn’t possibly recognize everyone, asking them if it’s their first time is like asking someone if they’re a tourist. They may feel like you’re suggesting they look like a newb and that will color their perception of you. You have the data. You should know if it’s someone’s first time. If you’re simply looking to make conversation, pick another topic.

  1. Telling a Potential Sponsor “We Can Do Anything You Want.”

While this may seem like a very flexible and appealing approach to take – why not accommodate someone who’s trying to give you money? – it’s also very lazy. It puts the onus on the potential sponsor to come up with a sponsorship package. If you’re working with a large (like Pepsi large) sponsor, this may be advantageous because they have whole departments that worry about product placements and sponsorships and they have very particular ways they want to work with others. But for the rest of the business world, you need to offer a little more direction and creativity.

Learn about their goals and brainstorm ideas on how to approach a mutually beneficial arrangement. Sure, tout your flexibility but don’t make it look like you’re asking someone else to do your job.

  1. Answering Any Inquiry as to How You’re Doing with “Well, Not So Great…”

A seasoned event professional understands that the entire event crew, vendors, attendees, and speakers take their cue from your emotional state. If you’re seen having an anxiety attack because the florist is late, this will trickle down to all facets of your event. Event professionals and professional poker players could swap stories about grace under pressure and keeping emotions at bay.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re a true newbie or someone who’s just looking to sound more confident, there are literally hundreds of words and phrases that undermine your efforts. Event planning is a people and relationship business. You need to instill confidence in clients that you are able to handle countless planned and unplanned challenges. Your language is an important way of doing that. Literally.

About The Author
Christina Green
Christina R. Green is a digital storyteller and writer for associations and businesses, including journals such as the Midwestern Society of Association Executive's magazine and industry blogs. She's a voracious reader but has been known to stop reading if there are too many exclamation points used.
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Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

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