The letter W is up next, which stands for Weasel Words.

What the hell is a weasel anyway? We’ll leave the literal definition to Animal Planet. But as far as metaphors go, here’s a good definition:

Your weasel of a friend who has a habit of “forgetting” their wallet every time you go out to dinner.

Present company excluded!

When we talk about Weasel Words in public speaking, we mean serious business. They are the easiest way to undermine your credibility and by eliminating them, the easiest way to refine your presentation.

And, no, we are not trying to turn you into a silver-tongued orator.

We simply want to make you more persuasive and, like the Dos Equis Beer guy, way more interesting.

In addition to eliminating “kinda” and “sorta” and “like”, here are a couple of categories of weasel words to strike from your verbal repertoire:

The Trojan Adverb: Ah, adverbs. Those deceitful little modifiers that can subtly undermine your point. “Basically,” “literally,” and “totally” will dilute the impact of your messages faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Did we spell that correctly?

The Notorious Hedge: Have you ever encountered the infamous “I’m not an expert, but…” or “Some people say that…” before a statement? We often use these phrases to shield ourselves from potential criticism or disagreement. Remember, your audience wants a reliable guide, not a wind sock.

We’ve got more, but we know you’re busy and don’t have time for long-winded emails, so we’ll leave it at that.

Want to erase modifying and filler words in your presentations?

Join us for CLOUT: Communication Skills for Go-Getters in Boston on Oct 13.