Want to Be an Effective Speaker? Eliminate Pointless Phrases

Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE - Executive Speech Coach, Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker
Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE – Executive Speech Coach, Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker

As an executive speech coach, I recommend that in preparing your presentation you record yourself and then listen carefully to find and eliminate all non-words, clichés and redundancies from your talk; these will only dilute your message and bore your audience!

Lisa Braithwaite wrote this great article on “filler phrases” which appeared in Ragan Communications. Thank you Lisa.

Eliminate These Pointless Phrases from Your Vocabulary

With all due respect, these filler phrases have to go. You know?

by Lisa Braithwaite

How many pointless or nonsensical 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 on a stage and all eyes are on you, two things happen:

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

I’ve retrained myself, but I used to say “Right?” at the end of practically every sentence. I felt I had to grovel for validation, I guess. After I watched myself on video, I killed all but the most occasional use of the word.

I’ve heard a few speakers say “Yes or no?” at the ends of their sentences. Again, I guess they want agreement or validation, but they really annoy the heck out of their audiences.

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

When I was on a webinar the other day, the speaker kept saying, “So, very quickly…” before he moved on to his next point. Why? Did he want to give the illusion he was going through his webinar faster because he said he was moving quickly?

Lisa Braithwaite
Lisa Braithwaite

Of course, because he said this every few minutes, he wasted precious moments when he could have taught us.

Here are a few more phrases 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…”

To catch yourself inserting meaningless or repetitive phrases into your presentations, you must slow down and listen, as well as record yourself. Listen and hear yourself speak. Pause when you catch yourself about to say one of your stock phrases, then continue with what you were going to sayminus the annoying phrase.This is only possible if you really hear yourself speak. Don’t rush 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.

Lisa Braithwaite is a public speaking coach and blogs at Speak Schmeak.

Ragan Communications is a wonderful source of information for communicators. Their conferences include the Ragan Speechwriters Conference which I have been honored to keynote.

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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.