5 Ways to Have More Impact When You Talk
Whether proposing ideas at a meeting, talking with team members, or giving a formal presentation, certain ways of speaking can be annoying to listeners.
Some people, for example, speak too fast. Listening to speed-talkers is fatiguing. It’s been said that people attribute greater intelligence to those who speak more quickly; too fast, though, and instead of listening, people shut out what’s being said. If you’re a speed-talker, try to slow down. Insert longer pauses between sentences and phrases and allow for a few seconds of silence between thoughts. Your listeners will be better able to absorb and comprehend what you’re saying.
Another annoyance is tentativeness. This refers to softening your word usage so much that you come across as wishy-washy. For example: “I think maybe that proposal could benefit by something along the lines of somewhat more charts.” OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you’ll sound more confident if instead, you say, “That proposal would have more impact with more charts.” There’s no need to totally eliminate phrases such as “I think” or “a bit” or “maybe.” Just don’t overdo it.
If you really want to annoy your listeners, apologize often and profusely, even when a simple “I’m sorry” would suffice. If something stronger is warranted, identify the situation, offer an apology, provide an explanation if appropriate, and then move on. Don’t annoy people by belaboring the point.
And let’s not overlook the use of “um” or “uh.” These utterances, referred to as filler words, are often used as placeholders when you’re searching for a word or unsure what you want to say next. Used in moderation, filler words are fine; in fact, we don’t even notice them. It’s when you “um” or “uh” the whole way through your sentences—or begin each new thought with an extended “uuuuhhhh”—that they annoy listeners and make you sound unsure of yourself.
While you’re at it, try to avoid annoying mannerisms when speaking with others, such as twisting your hair, cracking your knuckles, twirling a pen, tap-tap-tapping your foot, or populating your sentences with “like,” “ya know,” and “whatever.” In general, if you find something about the behavior of others annoying when they speak to you, determine whether you might be doing the same thing when you speak. Then stop doing it.