Cup with Message

Reducing Verbal Clutter with 4 Key Steps

Join the conversation on Zoom, listen to a reality talk show, or talk to someone on the phone. In these various places, listen for the “you knows”, “likes”, and “ums”.  You may be saying “you know” at the beginning and end of every phrase and you don’t even realize it.  All this clutter is diminishing your strength as a communicator.

  1. To decrease your ever-present clutter, you must first become aware of the problem. Listen to yourself talk. Put on your “demolish verbal clutter” hat every time you open your mouth. Think verbal clarity, and then begin to talk. Make this an active, rather than a passive activity.
  2. In place of verbal clutter, try adding a pause. Pauses are powerful. Your listeners will listen with keener ears when you’ve added some oral white space.
  3. “Advanced verbal clutter reduction” involves getting rid of overused words and phrases. How often do you say “basically”, “clearly”, “honestly”, “truly”, “I think”, “do you know what I mean?”, “the bottom line”, “am I making sense?”, and “at the end of the day”? Again, listen to yourself and monitor these words and other repetitive words/phrases/clichés.
  4. Why do you say “honestly” and “truly”? These words don’t accentuate your point. In fact, using these words may cause your listener to wonder if everything else you say is not honest and not truthful. Another huge pitfall is beginning each sentence with “I think”.  Since the words are flowing out of your mouth we know they are your thoughts.  Get rid of the “I thinks”, and you’ll gain credibility.
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