What Not To Say When Making A Speech

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What Not To Say When Making A Speech

January 21, 2009 Persuasion 5

Hyperbole, wishy washy language, and intensifiers. What do these three language patterns have in common? They inhibit your influence. Leave these patterns out of your language, and you’ll deliver a stronger message.

There are a few speech patterns worth paying attention to in your preparation to speak.  The first verbal pattern to be careful of is hyperbole.  Its the WORST THING IN THE WORLD to use hyperbole.  EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU DO IT, PEOPLE WILL GET HORRIBLY ANGRY WITH YOU!  Ok, that’s hyperbole.  And the problem with it is that the more you use it, the less credible you are.  

The second verbal pattern is wishy washy language.  Er, at least I think so.  Probably.  I guess. Maybe you should, well, might um, think twice, if you want, um, mumble, mumble, this is probably dumb but, what I really meant to say, grrr, um, never mind.  Wishy washy talking gets you a tepid to weak response.  

The third pattern is the use of intensifiers.  I really really really can’t emphasize this enough.  Really.  It is very very very disconcerting to hear people so so so needing to really really amplify what they say.  Because what is says is that what you say isn’t very strong.  

Leave these patterns out of your language, and you’ll deliver a stronger message that gets the Click!  Er, I think.  Pretty much.  Really.  ALWAYS. 

I’m keeping this post brief.  But you can talk all you want in the comment area.

Be well,

5 Responses

  1. Jaime Snyder says:

    That’s very helpful–well said.

  2. Gary C Smith says:

    Dr K, you are so clear in communication you are addictive to me. A good addictions like clean water, exercise, belly breathing, anyway I am drawn away from writing a newsletter to jump on a shampoo box and ask all adverbs to step back into their box. Its a strong verb that always carries the day. Take the pause that refreshes and find the verb for the message.
    Years back I wrote a short essay using that mythological entity so trusted by some so distrusted by others , but at least it is not an adverb. To many a powerful and troublesome noun.

    Adverbial misadventures.
    I stand atop said shampoo box and Slowly I turn, step by step….
    I face my nemesis. There, protracted by a barrier of adverbs, and lies, distorting my experience, my direct experiences of life in the form of verbs I chose to create hidden behind labels and judgments I disempower myself, my creations and all I see behind a barrage of adverbs.
    In the beginning was the word, and the word was of a God, and a God does not need to be adorned with modifiers, supervisors, enlargers, diminishers, all false Gods. A God creates with verbs. Teaches, builds, creates, loves, grows, destroys, says, sings, utters, hollers, searches, remembers, repels and marches with words that fill us with meanings.
    Barriers, buffers, nonsensical judgments, subjective muddlings of the waters transforms a God of great things into the god of small potatoes.
    Take the adverbs out of your life and have a direct experience of your own creations.

    You are a very fun addiction I appreciate.

  3. J.D. Meier says:

    Beautify set of antipatterns.

    They resonate, I see them in action, and I fall into them sometimes myself.

    I see people use hyperbole most when they’re trying to force the other person to feel something they don’t. The more they paint the story, the more fake and incongruent it seems.
    I see people get Wishy Washy when they lack clarity and confidence.
    I see people use intensifiers when they don’t have a great way to express the impact of what they want to say.

    What’s funny is just today I fell into the intensifier trap. I was presenting a complicated idea and I hadn’t figured out how to say it simply enough or to make the true impact come across. I didn’t fall into wish washy because I had confidence and clarity. Instead, I recognized I missed showing the impact and I started using intensifiers. Luckily I caught myself and switched to metaphors, found the right one, and drove the point home.

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