Whether you’re presenting a new proposal, hosting a debate, or engaging in professional conversation, there are a few words and phrases you should try to avoid.
Using slang or filler words can distract and annoy your audience. More importantly, these words can erode your audience’s confidence in what you have to offer.
Avoid the following slang and filler words to better convey your message and instill confidence in your audience:
You guys. Referencing a group of people as “you guys” lowers your level of professionalism. This term should be reserved for friendly conversations, not those with clients or co-workers. Instead, use terms such as “your team” or “your organization” to more appropriately get your point across.
You know. Ending a statement with “you know?” lowers your level of authority. It implies that you are unsure of your statement and whether you correctly verbalized your point. Read your audience’s body language instead of directly asking for their approval. Do they look confused or are they following your every word? This way, you can correctly determine your audience’s understanding without hurting the power of your message.
Um, ah, like, so … These filler words can distract your audience from your message. They also take away from your presentation’s impact. If you are not confident in what you have to say, why should your listeners be? Try counting your filler words and those of others; you’ll be surprised at the difference that exclusion of these words can make. Taking a deep breath instead of filling the silence with an “um” or “ah” is a more effective alternative and will strengthen your presentation.
Very, really, basically. It is important to be as clear as possible when delivering a presentation. This can be accomplished by honing in on brevity and clarity. Use of adjectives and adverbs add judgment to your message and make it less objective. Avoid filler words such as “very”, “really,” or “basically” because they clutter your presentation with empty meaning.
Some, most, many, sort of. Using non-specific words such as, “some,” “most,” “many,” or “sort of,” leave your audience guessing at who, and how much. These generalizations can cause your listeners to doubt the accuracy of your information. Try to use actual names and numbers to enhance your supporting data.
All, never, always, none, everyone. Be careful when using extreme words because they may push your audience to question your authority to make such encompassing statements. Instead, try again to use actual names and numbers to present your information.
Clichés. Inserting clichés can be dangerous. Your audience may not know the cliché’s intended meaning and your message can become lost in translation. You also run the risk of saying clichés incorrectly and losing your intended sincerity as a result. If possible, avoid clichés completely.
Bethany Cramer is the public relations coordinator at Marking Works and an active member of Toastmasters International. A version of this story first appeared on The Marketing Works Blog. Follow Marketing Works on Twitter @MktingWorks and Bethany @heybethanyrae.