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  • Writer's pictureJim M. Morgan

Executive speeches: Less is more


Having helped executives develop and deliver speeches on topics ranging from energy and education to manufacturing and market expansion, I know the importance of choosing the right words and putting them in the right order. That said, I’m also a proponent of “less is more.” Fewer words often generate greater impact. Let me share a few examples of superfluous phrases to be avoided at all costs.

 


“I’m here today to tell you that…”

 

If they are paying attention, your audience can see you before them, in the present moment, speaking. If that’s true, I’m not sure what this phrase intends to do. There is absolutely no new information in it. It is a waste of seven words. Similar to this are phrases such as, “It is my opinion that…” (better to say, “I think…”), and “I would like to share with you…” (avoid this and just get on with sharing whatever it is).

 

“As I have often said…”

 

If you’ve said it many times before, perhaps you shouldn’t say it again. Maybe it’s just not sticking and you need a new approach. Or perhaps your audience has already taken in the info and is desperate for something new. Either way, move on.

 

“I think you will all agree…”

 

If I’m in the audience and I hear this phrase, I may make it a point to disagree on principle because it sounds like my high school principal is talking. Don’t try to coerce audience agreement; state your case and trust.

 

“I just think…”

 

Hedging words sap the strength out of anything you try to say. Get rid of them. Eliminate uses of “just," "kind of," "sort of," "generally," "usually,” and the like. Say what you what to say, simply and declaratively, without hedging or softening. People may disagree with you either way, but if you say it without hedging, at least you aren’t wasting their time.

 

“If I’m being honest…”

 

To hear an executive preface a statement with “If I’m being honest” is the same as being told everything that came before was a lie. “That crap I told you for the past 10 minutes? All nonsense. But here is the honest truth…”

 

To sum up, I was here today to tell you, as I have often said, that I just think you will agree with the notion, if I’m being honest, that less is more in executive speeches.

 

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