Candidate Resources

Avoid These 5 Types of Words and Phrases That Make You Sound ‘Immature.’

John Bowe, is a world renowned public speaking coach. He stresses that the key to respect and credibility is to be direct, succinct, and informative. If your way of speaking comes across as immature or scattered, then people — especially your bosses and co-workers — will probably have a hard time taking you seriously. These are 5 types of words or phrases Bowe says to avoid if you want to retain your audience during a presentation or speech. 

  1. Facts that are already in your slide deck

Visuals are great for illustrating and enhancing your point. Your job, as a speaker, is to add value. When presenting, if you simply are restating the information that is already on your slide, packet, or any other visual you have included, it can seem like you’re wasting everyone else’s time. If your audience is literate, you’re simply reiterating what they already know or can read for themselves

Example: “As you can see here, we had 10 clients in 2020, and 14 in 2021.” “This slide shows we had $3 million in sales this year.”

  1. Personal Asides

When you divert attention by turning meetings into stand-up or an open mic night, you position yourself as unserious, self-centered or inexperienced. Being smart in professional situations means staying on topic.

Example: “This research was finicky, just like my mother-in-law.” “This data took weeks to uncover. It was annoying, because our vendor was switching IT guys.”

  1. Filler Words

We tend to fall back on filler words when we pause and think about what we’ll say next. You won’t be faulted for the occasional “umm” or “so,” but be aware that every syllable demands an equal amount of the other person’s attention. Getting rid of fillers makes you seem more focused and articulate.

Example: “Uhh” “like” “ahh” “You Know?”

  1. Business Jargon

Saying “utilize” instead of “use” doesn’t make you look smarter. Business jargon adds bloat, not gravity, to your speech. And more often, it confuses, or inadvertently amuses, your audience. Say what you mean in plain speech. Using an SAT word where one isn’t required takes away from what it is you’re trying to say. 

Example: “Circle back” “Bandwith” “Synergy”

  1. Hedging words

We use hedging words to seem reasonable, approachable or the opposite of bossy. These goals are lovely, but when time is money, extra words aren’t kind or pleasing; they’re distracting. Nothing shows respect like clarity. Don’t beat around the bush: People will appreciate you more when you say what you have to say.

Examples: “Kind of” “Sort of”

By avoiding these words and phrases, you can make sure your audience pays attention throughout your presentation and won’t tune out the information you’re providing them. Being concise and eliminating fluff in meetings shows that not only are you someone who can be taken seriously, but also shows you respect your co-worker’s time. 

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