How to Present with Authority

By Bob Morrell on October 16, 2015

When you hear people present, very quickly, you engage with them or you wonder why you can't. It can be the sound of their voice you don't like, the overall message doesn't resonate with you, the way they move, but more often than not it is something else that irritates you, and that is their use of language.

Here are five words that kill your credibility that you either don't know you say, or worse still, believe it helps your audience to connect with you more easily, when it ends up having the opposite effect. If you want to present with authority, you'll want to avoid them.

1. Basically - The classic and most chronic irritator. Some people have this as a filler of every single 'sentence sandwich' they speak. It means nothing and adds no value to the statement you make. It is even less effective when used to begin a response to a question. " So how did you develop the nuclear reactor?" " Basically, we all made a plan..."

It may be basic to you, but it is very often not basic to the person you are speaking to. When you use it 'on' them, as that's what it feels like, a form of verbal oppression, you are saying that the person to whom you are speaking, is as thick as two short planks!

2. Obviously - For obvious reasons, ha ha, that hopefully explains why not to use it! For the same reason why something which may be obvious to you is not obvious to me, don't preface your explanation with obviously. What can happen with both of these words is your tone elongates the word so it becomes, " Obveeeussleeeee..." It now sounds to me that perhaps you are a little 'basic'.

3. Genuinely - " I genuinely liked your film." Says Jonathan Ross. Does this imply that when he says to other creative beings that he liked their film, he was lying?

Genuinely also carries with it an air of extreme arrogance and belief in your own power. That when you deem something as passable or good we are so lucky to have had it blessed with your above average marks. It is creeping into areas beyond reviewing films and music. " Did you have a good holiday Jean?" " I genuinely did Jackie, I thought it would be Lanzagrotty but it was excellent."

4. Honestly - As above, and this time using the word that cuts straight to the heart of the matter. When you say honestly, to be honest or to be honest with you, you are saying that up until this point everything has been a half truth or a bold faced lie, but on this point I'm going to tell the truth for once. We were recently training a senior leader and when I checked on a point he made in his presentation that seemed unusual, he replied with, "God's honest truth!" Having that endorsement I could only believe him! Not.

5. So - This two letter verbal tick is used to buy you thinking time. It comes across as the marker dart for a fair amount of bull to come forth from your lips.

"And how do you come to that figure?" "So, what we did was to look very carefully at the time and skill we will apply..." Can you see where it is heading?

Ray a business veteran of the oil business who drinks down my pub, pointed out to me how presenters are now using it on television when they are not even being asked a question.

"Let's have a look in this room and see how they've got on, hello Susie it looks fabulous."

"So what we did was to take all of the wallpaper off, and put some new wallpaper on!"

Additionally people use 'So' for emphasis which used to be reserved for teenagers and now everyone does it 'This project, was like, SO effective'. And 'It so worked for us...' oh dear.

So, basically what I've done here, obviously, is give you an article that is genuinely full of tips that will help you be a better speaker and presenter - honestly. We're very passionate about this. Oh no! there's another!! 'Passionate' - if anyone says that they're usually anything but...