What Words to Remove to Communicate Better
Words matter. Saying the right thing, whether in writing or verbally, can be one of the most effective tools to ensuring that your audience behaves the way you want them to. However, this also means that saying the wrong thing (or even the right thing in the wrong way) can hurt your chances of reaching your goal. Today, we’ll review some words to avoid in all of your marketing efforts.
Before we begin, it is important to say that these rules are not concrete. Depending on how you are communicating your message, these words may be well-suited to making your point stand out. Nevertheless, these circumstances are the exception, not the rule, so it is important to consider how necessary a particular word is to making your point.
Kinds of Words to Avoid, and Why:
There are plenty of ways that you could potentially undermine your own point, simply in the way you communicate it. Many of them are caused by something called a “crutch word.” These are the words that we all use on occasion, especially in our speech. These crutch words come in many different types, and once you see them “in action,” you’ll probably understand why they should be edited out of your marketing communications.
These are perhaps the most common crutch words there are, because these can feel almost involuntary at times. How often have you paused to gather your thoughts, inadvertently starting your next sentence with an “Um…” or threw an “uh” in the middle of a sentence? These phonetic sounds are examples of the worst kinds of exclamations (sudden interjections into a sentence), as they only make you seem uncertain and lacking in confidence - the one exception being Jeff Goldblum. This impression will only make your position more difficult to defend - after all, if you don’t seem confident in what you have to share, why should your audience have any confidence in what you have to say?
To fix this, do your best to know what you want to say before you start to say it, allowing you to avoid these awkward pauses. Or, you know, uh, just be Jeff Goldblum.
Adverbs are basically the seasoning on a sentence, essentially boosting the verbs that are willfully contained within it to greatly boost the impact that a sentence deliberately impresses upon the audience that is intently reading it.
Clearly, that sentence was far too heavily seasoned with the (underlined) adverbs. When used sparingly, adverbs can add another dimension to your choice of verb and increase its descriptiveness, but it is also very easy to overdo their usage. Whenever you’re writing, make sure that you take a long look at what you’ve written. It is much better to write in the style of Ernest Hemingway than it is to write like James Joyce (at least, if you’re trying to get a point across quickly). There obviously are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, less is more.
While it will take practice to adopt a habit of avoiding adverbs, there is a quick method to keep them out of your writing: proofread what you put out.
So… you know how many speakers will seem to start a sentence, only to pause after the first word or so and veer off into a sentence that doesn’t seem to end where they first meant for it to go? These are known as false starts, and just like the false starts that happen in races, these can eliminate all trust in you your audience may have had.
Once again, proper preparation and planning are crucial to keeping yourself from slipping and falling into this common language trap, especially when you’re speaking aloud. Again, while these can be a perfectly natural part of regular speech, overusing false starts will only make what you have to say sound less confident and artificial in a professional setting.
On the other side of the coin, there are those who waffle on and on until they’ve forgotten what their original point was and what they really wanted to say so they just kind of let the sentence sort of come to an end. Another bad habit when it comes to ending a phrase is to become overly reliant on an interrogative (or question) that is awkwardly tacked to the end of a sentence, you know what I mean? The same is also true of those statements that really sound like they’re going somewhere important until they just… don’t.
This is a very common habit in speech while we talk to those we know. If the person we’re talking to already knows where we’re going, there seems little point in finishing the sentence. However, you have to remember that you will often be speaking to people who don’t know what you’re about to say, and are looking to hear more. Speaking deliberately, finishing sentences firmly and only ending with a question when you are trying to make a point will help to break this habit.
Many of these phrases come from speakers falling into culturally accepted, but still technically “wrong,” habits. Instead of simply saying, “Take that entree off their bill,” the sentence becomes, “Take that entree off of their bill.” Effectively the same, but one contains more words than necessary. The Valley Girl “like”, as in, “That’s, like, totally a prepositional phrase,” is a prime example of what to avoid whenever possible. Other overused and unnecessary words include the likes of, “of”, “about”, and “up.”
While prepositions are a crucial part of speech, they aren’t required to be everywhere. In fact, putting them everywhere will just make what you have to say that much less effective.
Again, we have an example of how there can really be too much of a good thing. An adjective can help you to emphasize the feeling that a statement should generate, whether it is something potentially terrible for the audience, or a cause for celebration and hope - but that’s just it. Using an adjective too often, and in a way that is unwarranted, diminishes its meaning - and if we’re being honest, makes you sound a little silly.
While there’s nothing wrong with occasionally describing one of your solutions as an “awesome” option for your audience, you shouldn’t also claim that its “awesome” features will help them achieve “awesome” benefits and a just “awesome” return on investment. Other, similar adjectives can and do have the same influence if overused, so moderation is key.
How to Remove Crutch Words from Your Marketing Vocabulary
In short, you have to take a good long look at yourself and figure out which crutch words you are guilty of. Do you have a tendency to use excessive adjectives, or liberally pepper your words with adverbs? Figure out what your preferred crutch words are, and work to use something else.
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