A Way with Words

By Cindy Waxer

According to Stephanie Bickel, an image consultant for Speak by Design, eloquent elocution is key if sales reps wish to impress prospects and clients. Here are some quick tips that will elevate your elocution.

1. Eliminate the digestive noises: Um and Ah and Uh!
Strive to accept silence and final consonant endings. Be comfortable with the silence and resume speaking when the thought is there. People who use um to illustrate their thought process appear less sure and less knowledgeable.

2. Sorta, kinda – what?
These words make you appear less than sure of your ideas. Such passive language shows weakness.

3. Stop the stalling and clarifying.
Reduce the use of words such as basically and my point is…. The easiest way to annoy an audience is to tell them through your language usage that you were wasting their time prior to this point.

4. Scram – GET!
Reduce the get in your language. It’s a rough word that lacks all finesse. It is neither a motivator nor a seller. Substitute other words for get and you’ll polish your image dramatically.

5. Get over the JUST addiction.
Excess use of just signals an excuse. People who feel threatened or weak use just. It is not the language of someone in a position of power.

6. Avoid absolutes.
When you use absolutes, you are asking to be proved wrong. Substitute often for always and rarely for never. Use absolutes sparingly so you do not diminish their weight.

7. Reduce failure.
Be cautious describing your failures or mistakes to others. Avoid using the words wrong, mistake and failure. Those are strong words that people can attach to their perception of you. Instead, use the phrases: experienced growing pains, achieved limited success and fell short of expectations.

8. Leave high school slang behind.
That sucks. That’s awesome. Cool. Wicked. Eliminate the slang of yesterday. Find substitutes for your habit words.

9. Stop the excessive MM-HM.
Eliminate a need to show your agreement and attention by excessive head bobbing and humming agreement. As a habit it is distracting and reduces your power.

10. Stop bullying for support.
Y’ know? You know what I mean? These are bullying phrases. People who abuse these phrases are seeking to gain instant support for poorly explained ideas.