PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

One of the more troublesome words for any speaker is the word “think.”

It seems harmless enough; but it has this tendency to appear when it shouldn’t and undermine a persuasive message.

The next time you are in an audience listening to a speaker propose something, listen to the very end of the message.  There is a high probability you will hear the word “think”—as in “I think this plan is the right one.  I think everybody will be pleased with it.”

How does that sound?

Sounds weak, doesn’t it?  It sounds like the speaker is not totally confident in the proposal.  The culprit is the word “think.”

It’s easy to imagine someone saying: “If you only think it’s the right plan, we don’t think we’re ready to commit to it.”

The speaker may have felt safer for having hedged a bit on the likelihood of success, but it’s a false sense of protection.  If the proposal is implemented and fails, the speaker will own the failure, with or without the word “think.”  It doesn’t add protection; it only subtracts confidence.

 The better way to end is not to go too far the other way and guarantee results.  All that is usually needed to strengthen the message is to drop the word “think.”  This proposal addresses all our needs.  We recommend it be implemented.

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