August 20, 2012

Do you fill your presentation with pointless phrases?



Here's another good reason to videotape or audio record yourself.

How many pointless or nonsense phrases do you insert into your everyday speech? Probably a lot. We all do, and in normal conversation, they easily slip by unnoticed. But when you're standing on a stage and all eyes are upon you, two things happen:

1. You react to your nervousness and insecurity by saying or emphasizing things you normally wouldn't.

Example: I've retrained myself now, but I used to find myself saying, "Right?" at the end of practically every sentence. Groveling for validation, I guess. After watching myself on video, I killed all but the most occasional use of this word.

I've heard a few speakers who say "Yes or no?" at the ends of their sentences -- again, looking for agreement or validation, but really just annoying the heck out of the audience.

2. The audience is more aware of your little quirks and expressions because you're the only one talking.

I was on a webinar the other day and the speaker kept saying, "So, very quickly..." before he would move on to his next point. Why? Did he want to give the illusion of getting through his webinar faster by saying he was moving along quickly? Of course, by saying this every few minutes, he wasted precious moments where he could have been teaching us.

A few more that I'm sure drive you crazy (but I bet you say some of them):

"In reality..."

"At the end of the day..."

"Basically..."

"With all due respect..."

"To be honest..."

In order to catch yourself inserting nonsense, meaningless or repetitive phrases into your presentations, you must slow down and listen. This is in addition to recording yourself. Listen and hear yourself speaking. When you catch yourself about to say one of your stock phrases, pause, and then continue on with what you were going to say. Minus the annoying phrase.

This is only possible if you are really hearing yourself speak, not rushing through your presentation like a robot. When you're present and in the moment with the audience, you can be present and in the moment with yourself. Give it a try.

(Edited to add): Check out this conversation we're having on Facebook about the words "juicy" and "yummy" to describe non-food items and concepts. It's getting heated!

Here's a guy whose go-to word is overused just a little bit:



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