When we become anxious, we begin to use words that don't do a great job at hiding those feelings. It's an unfortunate thing that happens -- I mean, who wants their audience to validate that we're nervous when we're trying to act cool and confident?

Whether it's a speech or a one-on-one meeting, it's normal to feel uncomfortable with silence between our words, therefore using filler words to keep the conversation flowing. This ultimately ends up just making your listener hyperaware that you are either lying, uncomfortable, or not well-versed, all of which we know are untrue.

Fortunately, you can learn exactly what those keywords are so that you can fast track your way to sounding -- and ultimately, feeling -- much more in control of your speech.

1. Really

When your listener tells a story or explains a situation, refrain from responding with, "really?".

This response makes it sound like you are questioning your counterpart's truth, which can be frustrating if they have just confided in you. If you do need dig deeper, try saying, "Tell me more", or "What happened next?", or just letting them finish out their monologue.

2. Just

Saying "just" undermines the importance of what you need to say or what you are stating.

Take this example: "This is just a project I'm working on" vs. "This is the project I'm working on". The first saying reduces the effect and magnitude of your capabilities.  

3. So

It's a common word filler that many of us use, but saying "so" too often ignites the feeling that you are being passive about making your next point or reaching a conclusion. Instead of starting a sentence with "so", take it out altogether. It will feel much cleaner and stronger.

4. Basically

This one makes your listener feel like they are, well, basic, when they are not. It can be annoying if you're in a professional setting and you supersede an explanation to your colleague with "basically". Instead, just say what you have to say because what's basic to you may not be basic to your listener.

5. Obviously

This one is the same concept as "basically". Hearing the word "obviously" undermines the listener they'll end up not listening.

6. You Know?

I understand where this one came from. It derived from the speaker wanting to relate to their listener, but when your listener doesn't know what you're talking about, it gets awkward. Say what you need to say and then let them respond appropriately.

7. Typically/Usually

This is fine to say if you're explaining a usual behavior, but not fine to say if it's to describe what you do best. If you're making a pitch to an investor about your company, don't say, "We typically see people get excited about this feature." Instead, own up to the users that love your product and say, "People get extremely excited about this feature."

At the end of the day, it'll be hard to completely nix certain words out of your vocabulary, but remember that your goal is to sound confident and be relatable to your listener. Reducing use of these words will help you connect with yourself and your audience much better.

Published on: Feb 26, 2018