The two phrases that make me cringe most when I observe a presenter or meeting participant fielding questions are: “Like I said…” and “As I mentioned previously…”.
If someone asks you a question that you’ve previously answered, it means one of three things:
- They missed the answer the first time because they were not listening.
- You were unclear when you reviewed the answer previously.
- You made them work too hard to understand and remember it.
The fact is that they missed it, and it was probably your fault. Perhaps you buried it among other complex data they were trying to decipher. Maybe it was a key point you should have covered with emphasis, and you didn’t.
Or maybe it wasn’t your fault and they were distracted by a text message at that precise time you covered that specific point.
The bottom line is that it happened; and how you handle it makes all the difference. When you use a phrase such as, “Like I said…” you are pointing a big finger right at the questioner that says, “I covered this before, dummy. Weren’t you listening?” That’s just like being called out by your 6th grade teacher in front of the class. Nobody likes how that feels.
Instead, kindly answer the question. Maybe even give an example or elaborate on it a bit. You might find that the question came up because the questioner simply could not think of a better way to ask you to elaborate more on the specific point.
Banish these phrases from your repertoire. Don’t even use them in email communications. Saying, “Like I said…” or “As I mentioned previously…” may make you feel better by pointing out that you covered the information already. But it’s not about you. The fact is that these phrases do nothing but hurt your effectiveness as a presenter and influencer.