I have the privilege and opportunity to observe leaders in action on a regular basis.  Whether I am facilitating an executive off-site meeting, shadowing a coaching client to observe his/her daily interaction style, or watching participants in executive programs I lead interact with each other and make presentations, I am constantly working with people to help them maximize their personal impact.

There are some unconscious common communication habits that I observe in people over and over again that minimize their personal impact.

Whether you are talking to one person or to a group of people, here are three unconscious speaking habits that serve to minimize your personal impact without you even realizing it.

How many of these do you do and need to let go of?

1.    Habitually using qualifying language

I can’t tell you how many times I observe people over and over again in meetings, team presentations, or giving briefings using the following preface phrases before they speak:

“This may sound dumb, but…”

“I know this is boring, but…”

“This is just my opinion, but…”

“This may not be relevant, but…”

And so on.

Using these qualifiers serve as mega impact minimizers.  If you tell me that what you are about to say is boring, dumb, or irrelevant, why should I listen to you?

TIP:  Listen for how many times you use these qualifiers when you speak.  Drop them completely—they minimize your personal power and projection of confidence when you use them.

2.    Using run on sentences and repeating the same thing over and over again

We often speak like we think—in a stream of consciousness.  We get lost in our own head and our words string together.  As we confirm our thoughts in our own head, we repeat them to validate that they were right and heard.

We all have experienced the presenter who goes on and on—with no pause in thought pattern and in a seemingly repetitive cycle.  That’s what happens when you are lost in your own head trying to string your thoughts together.   It minimizes your impact as people tune you out and wait for you to take a breath to interrupt you.

TIP:  Slow down.  Articulate one thought at a time.  Use shorter sentences.  Pause and then articulate the next thought.  Put verbal periods at the end of each statement.  Stop using connector words like  “so”, “therefore”, “however”, etc. that serve to run your thoughts and sentences together.  Instead of using a connector word, end the sentence and begin a new one with a new thought.

Your language will be much more crisp and succinct and you will be less likely to repeat yourself.  It may take some getting used to but your language will have more impact.

3.    Using repetitive filler words

Have you ever watched a tape of yourself in a meeting?  How about giving a presentation?  What surprises people the most (after they get over the shock of themselves on camera) are how many filler words they use after every sentence.




“You know…”

We can hear those repetitive filler words when others use them.  It is often shocking, however, to see our own self on tape using these words over and over again.  The filler words serve as distractors and our message gets lost as people focus on the filler word mantra we are saying over and over again without even realizing it.

TIP:  Start listening to your own voice when you are speaking to someone—whether one-on-one, in a meeting, or to a group.  Listen for your use of filler words.  When you become conscious of how much you use them, you can make a deliberate effort to eliminate them when you speak.

It will take some time since it is an unconscious habit, but your communication will be more impactful as a result.


As always, send me a note or leave a comment with your thoughts on the topic.

 Maximize Your Impact –wherever you are.