“Does that make sense?”

We’ve all heard it and many of us have said it. Jerry Weismann has noticed a surge of such filler language in public speaking and urges, Never ask “Does that make sense?”

Why? Weismann says the expressions has two negative implications:

• Uncertainty on the part of the speaker about the accuracy or credibility of the content
• Doubt about the ability of the audience to comprehend or appreciate the content.

He wants us to consign the phrase to “the ranks of fillers, empty words that surround and diminish meaningful words, just as weeds diminish the beauty of roses in a garden.” The phrase would have lots of company:

  • “You know…” as if to be sure the listener is paying attention
  • “Like I said…” as if to say that the listener didn’t understand
  • “Again…” as if to say that the listener didn’t get it the first time
  • “I mean…” as if to say that the speaker is unsure of his/her own clarity
  • “To be honest…” as if to say the speaker was not truthful earlier
  • “I’m like…” the universal filler which says absolutely nothing

He goes on: “While all of the preceding cast doubt on the competence of the presenter or the audience, another group of phrases and words casts doubt on the content itself:”

  • “Sort of” 
  • “Pretty much” 
  • “Kind of” 
  • “Basically” 
  • “Really”
  • “Actually”
  • “Anyway”

Weismann says that every filler word or phrase devalues the family jewels, the nouns and verbs that represent the products, services, and actions of the business (or sermon). So delete them from your sermon and your speech.

Does that make sense?

Any other fillers you want to consign to oblivion?

  • SomeGuy

    There are many.

    People who pad out prayers with the word “just” – “we just pray” “we just thank you”. Just say it without using “just”.

    People who use the word “utilize” instead of “use”. Please stop using extra air and say “use”.

    Meaningless intensifiers like “extremely” “very” etc which are so overused they don’t add anything.

    Almost every speaker has verbal tics like “now” and “listen” – when used appropriately as transitions, they’re fine and add some character, but when used excessively, they get annoying.

    “Quote/unquote” when used in any way other than to indicate literal speech. (If you use your fingers to make quotation marks in the air, you should have them chopped off.)

    An interesting discussion of removing the fluff from your speech can be found in Patrick Allitt’s “The Art of Teaching” series. He has a whole session on this issue.

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