The following are called “crutch words” in public speaking that must be carefully avoided. The included tips include many items. Simply pick the ones you use regularly and work on getting better at minimizing or avoiding them altogether.
Here are 12 Words & Phrases to Avoid (along with the classic ah/um/like/you know & so fillers)
1. Honestly: Using this word makes people question our honesty. Same of truly, frankly, truth be told, and to tell the truth.
2. Just: The ultimate doormat word. This downplayer makes what we are saying less important. Saying “I just have a question” makes the question seem insignificant.
3. I was just thinking: This includes the weak “just”, and then tells people we are thinking. When are we not thinking? It makes our thoughts sound less important.
4. Sorry: There is a time and place for apologies. Too often this word is used in emails and conversations before asking a question or for a favor. Over apologizing turns you into a doormat.
5. I will say: This phrasing is overused in presentations. It takes away from a profound message. Why tell someone what you will say? Say it. The cousins of this phrase include: ‘in conclusion‘, ‘I will start by telling you’, etc.
6. I want to start by…: Similar to #5. This weakens the messaging and kills the pacing. This useless phrase creates an exit ramp for people to tune out of what you are saying.
7. I will try: This leaves room for doubt. Say what you will do. Stay away from telling people what you hope or aim to accomplish.
8. Should: This is another doubt creator. It leaves people unsure.
9. Actually: This breeds the same distrust as ‘honestly’. It creates a snag in conversations. Picture someone telling you that they actually liked your idea. How would you feel?
10. I’m not sure if this is right but…. : This hedging style phrase shows that you question your own wording. It’s often used when someone doesn’t want to be blamed or held accountable for a thought or action.
11. And so on and so forth…: Let go of all phrases that don’t add anything. If you wouldn’t pay for the words in a 30-second commercial, drop them. Other similar ones include, ‘as a matter of fact‘, ‘case in point‘, etc.
12. You know what I mean: This opens up the door for people to think that no, they do not know. Violators of this phrase tend to use it to punctuate sentences.
Other people have similar crutch words that they use to punctuate their sentences. The fact that certain phrases are used regularly does not mean they are right.