It's a sickening moment, isn't it? It's 9.30 in the morning and you're in a large barely-lit room at a Sofitel in a not-great part of town. Shirt's a bit tight; trousers bunching unflatteringly. Why did you have that last glass of red/bowl of curry/argue with the wife/tell off the kids/not resign your daft job after that dreadful meeting? The first speaker passed you by; the second one is just starting. With a click of the mouse, he accidentally reveals the devastating truth: a 46-slide PowerPoint-athon has just begun. You know for a fact that you're just about to hear, at the very, very least, Another 12 Crap Things IT People Say.
1. "It's like [something] on steroids." Anabolic steroids are quite dangerous drugs designed to promote testosterone. You're misusing the term somewhat if you're talking about 'content management on steroids', 'Wi-Fi on steroids' or 'blogging on steroids'. You've just said something a bit Freudian there.
2. "We just make the guns; we don't force people to buy them or shoot with them." This one rivals "sexy software" for cringe-inducing naff-ness combined with revelatory insight into the dark mind of the speaker. Just because you've designed a nice handset/relational database management system/high-speed protocol for near-field communications doesn't mean you're some arms magnate. And in what world would you want to associate yourself with people who make things designed to kill people?
3. "It's like lipstick on a pig." It was probably funny the first time but that was then and this is now. And now that it's used for everything from user interfaces to database clustering extensions, that 'then' seems a long, long time ago. Also, the image it evokes is quite horrible -- in my mind, a slash of pure, vulgar scarlet being inflicted for comic effect on a blameless beast, living out it's porky life before a sudden, certain end.
4. "Offices in London, Milan, Madrid, Munich..." Well, just hang on... I know for a fact that your UK office is in Taplow/Maidenhead/Winnersh Triangle/Reading/Slough/Feltham/Staines/Egham. Look around you when you go there: is this the city of Dickens, corridors of power and teeming streets? Or a light industry estate made out of Lego where you have to drive in order to buy a sandwich? Exactly, so forgive me if I suspect your other satellite offices are in similarly dismal locations outside of these cities, specially selected for high-value office space and quick getaways to the airport.
5. "We don't really compete with anybody." Oh yeah? Entirely new field, is it? Got it all to yourself? Then I think you'll find it's a stupid idea. Or do you mean you don't want to be compared with the much bigger people?
6. "Our company and the other players in the field..." As in 'participants in the sector' but with a subtle suggestion that you're analogous to Premiership footballers or perhaps theatrical actors. Dreaming, mate, dreaming.
7. "This is like when the railroads were being built..." It's not. And anyway, look what you did to the railroads.
8. "EMEA." Eh-me-ah. Eh-me-ah. Eh-me-arghhhh.
9. "Inorganic growth." Also known as 'buying companies for stuff we couldn't do yourselves'.
10. "CSR/green." Discovered by computer firms quite recently, coincidentally at the same time that oil prices made powering computers prohibitively expensive and datacentres got notably toastier, thanks to all the computers that were designed before it was brought to the notice of computer makers that they were designing gas-guzzlers made exclusively of carcinogens and other elements known to turn your core assets into raisins. But that's OK, the CEO now spends half a day a year working with ruffians to build a project centre or something. He's coming over on his private jet next week if you'd like to meet him.
11. "Product roadmap." About as reliable as a broken sat-nav and filled with similarly unlikely names, quite often delivered in a strangely strangulated accent.
12. "Could I use the laser pointer?" I was sceptical, frankly, but yes, now you've picked up the wand that shaky red dot on the screen really brings out what you're saying.