Of all the public speakers you’ve heard over the years, whether school teachers, office leaders or keynote speakers, how many have you heard that you did not mentally criticize some portion of their speaking habit?
In other words, you might have agreed with what they said, but you were annoyed or frustrated by how they delivered their messages.
I love public speaking and I hope to do more of it in the future. However, I know I’m not as polished yet as I hope to one day be. Even so, I tend to be a fairly emphatic critic when listening to public speakers.
Certain patterns, habits or idiosyncrasies of public speakers drive me nuts. They probably drive you crazy too.
Following are six words or phrases public speakers say that, if they realized how it sounded or made people feel, they would stop.
1. I would recommend – There is a fairly well-known university professor who speaks throughout the country on agribusiness-related topics. I’ve heard him speak a few times. One of his key phrases he uses is “I would recommend.”
What I keep waiting for during his presentations is when he would actually recommend it. In other words, is he recommending it to the listener or just saying he would recommend it at some point in the future?
He’s recommending it now. However, that’s not what he’s saying.
There is also a radio commercial that plays in St. Louis featuring the best shortstop to ever play Major League Baseball. In the commercial, he states, “I would recommend [ABC Company] to anybody.”
What the writers actually want him to say, I believe, is, “I do recommend [ABC Company] to everyone.” Why do the writers want to leave doubt in the listener’s mind as to when the recommendation would be made?
2. Guys – Guy is interchangeable for male. That’s pretty simple to understand. Why, then, do people use “guys” when speaking to an audience of men and women?
I’d rather hear someone say “y’all” or even it’s plural form of “all y’all” than “guys.” Regardless of whether a speaker or listener is feminist, or anti-feminist, guys should not be an acceptable term.
3. You all know – You hear public speakers use this term or a derivative quite often. I hear it in church services frequently.
For example, the preacher may say, “I’m sure everyone is familiar with what John 3:16 says.” There is likely someone in the audience who has no idea what that verse says and may not even know it is a Bible verse.
Let’s not assume each person in the audience is at the same knowledge level about the topic at hand. If everyone was at the same level, there would likely not be a reason to have someone speaking on the topic.
4. Kind of – When “kind of” is inappropriately used, it lessens the meaning of what the speaker is saying.
For example, “It’s kind of important.” Or, “I spoke with Joe about Suzy and he kind of felt like she was being rude.”
See how that lessens the impact? Either it is important or Joe did feel like Suzy was being rude. “Kind of” really had no purpose in being added to either sentence.
Just like um or and, “kind of” is used as a filler.
5. Just – “Just” is another filler. It is used often in public prayers.
“Father, we just want to thank you and we just want to praise you and we just want to ask for you to be with us.”
Just means only. If just is used multiple times in the same sentence, it cannot mean only.
6. I apologize – The first rule I learned in Speech class my Freshman year of college was to never apologize at the beginning of a speech. When doing so, that tells the audience to not have very high expectations.
I’ve heard a public speaker apologize for a plane being delayed the night before. The speaker was on schedule for her assigned talk so why did she have to apologize for the plane being late. She used it as an apology for her lack of preparation even though preparation should have been done long before the day of air travel.
On the other hand, I’ve also heard someone apologize for the airline losing his luggage and that is why he was wearing just jeans and a sweater instead of the typical suit. Now, that is an acceptable apology.
Remember, I’m not the best public speaker in the world and I don’t claim to be. I need work. Have you ever noticed that very few of the best athletes in the world make great coaches or evaluators of talent? It’s the same with public speaking.
Even the best public speakers can and want to get better. Amateur speakers like me want to get better. I also want to refrain from doing simple things that will detract from my message.
What other sayings, phrases or actions of public speakers annoy you? Please share in the comments below.