We are in the communications business. And yet, not a week goes by that I don't see evidence of our failure to communicate either with our co-workers or our clients. Clear communication is an art. It takes time, effort and training.
For the foreseeable future, much of our face will remain covered with masks while speaking in person with clients. In some states, we are wearing masks in the office as well. These restrictions cut down on the visual cues people use to understand our intent and make it even more important to use our words in a powerful way. We need to take lessons from our on-air compatriots and learn to paint images with words. We also need to eject some words from our selling vocabulary that will weaken our message and make us sound less than confident. My speech teacher in college called them "word whiskers". These words attach to our sentences and sometimes are used to fill silences. In conversations with clients, we feel that silence is unacceptable. But silence can be golden. The "dramatic pause" can emphasize what we say next.
Here are some of the "word whiskers" I hear most often when working with clients:
"We're JUST going to THROW IN these 10 FREE spots per week."
Notice how the use of "just" and "throw in" diminishes the importance of what we are giving our clients? "Throw in" implies little thought and less value. Plus, there is no such thing as a "free" spot (spot is what happens to your clothes to send you to the cleaners. Use "message" or "commercial" instead.)
Another set of word whiskers I hear is "This page is KIND OF..." It is or it isn't. "Kind of" weakens our message.
I also have heard "Like". This seems to be the new catch phrase for young people. "It's like, the best way to communicate, like, you know, a good way to say it."
Like, like, like. I DON'T like like!
"But", "Yea", "Uh", "So", "Sort of". Do these sound familiar?
There is nothing wrong with a few seconds of silence.
One of the best ways to know if you use these word whiskers is to record yourself before you present to your clients. Zoom provides an easy option to record your virtual conversations. Play them back and listen to how you say what you say. Tiny words can sabotage our message and drive our clients to distraction.
As we enter 2021, it's important we cut through the cloth and truly communicate our messages to clients and co-workers. Shave off those word whiskers. Clear, confident, powerful communication will result.