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The top ten phrases to avoid in presentations

Top 10 phrases to avoid
1. If I’m honest.
2. Let me be clear.
3. Believe me.
4. The honest truth is.
5. The fact is.
6. To be fair.
7. In terms of.
8. The real issue is.
9. I understand what you are saying, but.
10. In all honesty.

You might think you come across as authentic if you use such phrases as “honestly”, “believe me”, “trust me” and “let me be clear”, but in fact the opposite is true. According to a survey by the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC), when spoken by politicians and business leaders, these words cause instant distrust.

The survey also found that the three qualities that are most important to how trustworthy a politician or business leader appears are emotional openness, calm rationality and benevolence. Displays of aggression, competitiveness and outspokenness were likely to cause people to question the trustworthiness of public figures.

“This may come as a surprise given recent events in the US,” says Gina Lodge CEO of the AoEC. “During the election campaign, we saw how Trump deliberately used provocative language in his speeches. But he also used openly emotional language. He talked about his opponents being ‘mean’ to him or making ‘rude’ comments. He avoids speaking in managerial clichés and uses simple, direct language. This, more than the meaning of what he says, is why he was able to connect with people in such a powerful way.”

Three tips for public speaking
Don’t use ‘sincere’ jargon.
Cloaking messages in qualifying statements and managerial soundbites makes people less likely to trust what you say.

Clarity is key. Most (83%) people are more likely to trust someone using simple language.

Don’t play the boss. Clear, open and emotional communication is much more effective than aggressive boardroom language.

As someone who specialises in communications, you might think you naturally appreciate how people respond to you, but you may sometimes be using your head instead of your heart, and this is a mistake. Gina Lodge explains: “Many companies pride themselves for understanding ‘soft skills’ and talking about the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). But this is not enough. The word ‘intelligence’ makes it sound like a head skill when what is required is to speak openly from the heart, embracing benevolence, kindness, evangelism and love.”

So if you want to sway audiences, be emotional, but don’t use emotive terms such as “trust me”. Honestly, that’s the truth.


AoEC surveyed 500 office workers using an online survey

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