Always Use Meaningful Words

  • Share
  • Read Later

Meaningless phrases, such as “To be honest” and “Like I said,” often creep up in meetings and presentations. Using these expressions undermines your credibility. Try replacing this filler language with meaning by doing the following:

  • Switch from conditional to declarative. Couching statements with phrases like “I believe” or “We think” weakens your argument. Strengthen your points by cutting to the chase. If you must use the conditional, try the stronger “We’re confident” or “We expect.”
  • Be positive. Negative statements sound defensive and fail to provide information. Instead of saying “What we’re not is…” tell your audience exactly what you are.

Adapted from “Replace Meaningless Words with Meaningful Ones” by Jerry Weissman.

Visit Harvard Business Review’s Management Tip homepage

Purchase the HBR Management Tips book