When you speak in meetings or give presentations, your words matter. In addition to communicating your ideas, they help to communicate your confidence (or lack thereof).
For example, if you overuse filler and pause words such as “um,” “ah,” and “you know,” you sound tentative and unprepared. While a few filler words are fine, if every other word is a filler, or you always use fillers to get from one point or one slide to the next, you won’t sound confident.
Also avoid the category of words that I call minimizers. Words like “sorta” and “kinda” minimize the impact of the statement you’re making. I’ve actually heard people use these minimizers in their introductions; “I kinda run the back-office operations,” or “I’m sorta handling all the new customers.”
My personal pet peeve is use of the minimizer word “just.” Unless you are talking about legal justice, do not use the word “just.” I hear “just” all the time in meetings and presentations:
· When there is a question: “I just have a question” or “I just want to know”
· When someone has an idea: “I just want to make a suggestion” or “I just want to say”
· When introducing themselves: “I’m just a researcher” or “I’m just an accountant”
· “I have a question” or “I would like to know”
· “Here is my suggestion” or “I would like to know”
· “I’m a researcher” or “I’m an accountant”
Also limit your use of “I’m sorry.” Unless you step on my foot, don’t apologize. There is no need to apologize for asking a question, asking for clarification or wanting to make a point. Over-apologizing makes you sound like you don’t belong at the table and that you don’t have the right to speak up and be heard.
How Do You Eliminate Weak Language?
To make your language stronger, record yourself presenting or leaving a voice mail and then listen to it. Identify your weak words and then practice without them. As with all practice, at first this will feel unnatural, but eventually you will become more comfortable.
The next time you have to present or speak at a meet, remove your filler words and minimizers and instead, use confident, definitive language. You will make it easier for the audience to build a positive perception about your leadership presence - not only your communication abilities, but also your expertise and competence. In turn, they will be more likely to pay attention and be influenced by you.
© Gilda Bonanno LLC - Gilda Bonanno serves as a trusted advisor to executives and entrepreneurs to transform their communication, presentation and leadership skills. She has worked with companies on 4 continents, from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome. The instructional videos on her YouTube channel have received over 2 million views and her e-newsletter has reached subscribers in over 45 countries since 2008. For other articles or to receive Gilda's e-newsletter, visit www.gildabonanno.com