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Watch Out For Power Thieves
"I'm not an expert on this topic, but . . ."
"This isn't exactly an exciting topic, but . . ."
"I hope you'll find this interesting."
"Had I more time to prepare . . ."
These expressions all have the same thing in common. They cause your audience to wonder why you - and especially they - are there. Each statement communicates the same message: "This isn't going to be a very good use of your time - get a seat close to the door." They are unnecessary and harmful statements. They are "power thieves" that sap the energy from your ideas. The three greatest thieves are apologies, feeble phrases, and weak words. Attack them on every front.
Run from weak words and feeble phrases. People may forget what they hear, but they will remember what they see. That's why someone once said, "The most effective orator is someone who can make people see with their ears." The well-chosen word has the ability to create a vivid, and unforgettable, mental image.
One way to make sure your listeners "see" your words is to avoid euphemisms - words that make concepts more politically correct, but are vague and less picturesque. (In other words, don't perspire when you should sweat.) These days, people no longer die, they pass away, terminate or expire. If you want to work out, you don't go to a smelly gymnasium, you join a spa or fitness center. We used to fire people, now we downsize, right-size, restructure or re-engineer.
Here is a final point to make: Can you visualize an undertaker? What color suit is he wearing? Can you visualize a "bereavement counselor?" Of course not. You can't even see the person, let alone the clothes. And that's the problem with euphemisms - sometimes termed "business bureaucratese" - they suck the juices out of your words.
Well-chosen words give your speech the power to captivate, mesmerize, and rivet your audience. You'll command attention when you sound convincing, authoritative, and credible.
Excerpted from the Sandler training program Presenting Yourself with Impact ©1997. All rights reserved.
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