March 21, 2006 Present Like A Pro Newsletter
Inspiring You to Discover, Develop, & Delight in Your Strengths
Welcome fellow speaker! This newsletter from Present Like A Pro is here to provide you with on-going tips and inspiration as you develop your skills as a speaker. In every issue are practical tools that you can use in your next presentation.

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This edition: 1,106 words; 3-4 minute read

4 Phrases to Avoid
by Sara Schaffer   Eliminating Unnecessary Words & Phrases
The speaker began his presentation with a laundry list of thank yous. Then he told a joke that fell flat. Next came numerous promises of what was in his talk. By the time he actually began his message, I was bored. I also had little confidence in the content.

Have you ever heard a presentation like this? We can warm up to an audience and share our message without using ineffective words and phrases. Keep the flow and integrity of talk by avoiding these 4 phrases and Presenting Like A Pro!

1) "Thanks for dinner!" Like the gentleman above, it's tempting to open with a list of thanks. It's much more powerful, however, to grab your listeners with an engaging short story. From your first word, bring your audience into your message. Then, if absolutely necessary, acknowledge the meeting planner, etc. (You can always say thank you for the food in a note later.)

2) "I'm going to tell you a story about..." I often hear this remark as a weak transition statement. Instead, simply tell the story. If there needs to be a set up for it, ask yourself a few questions: Why do I feel the need to explain it? Is this the best illustration for my point? Is there a better place in my presentation for this story? It may be a great story that simply needs refining.

3) "You know what I mean." My response to that statement from a speaker is often "???" I either don't know what they mean, don't want to presume to know, or don't know how to respond. Rhetorical statements need to be thought-provoking, not assuming. Also, if you really want to check the comprehension of your audience, give a clear way for them to respond.

4) "Uh - um - well - ah - so..." Verbal distracters take away from the impact of your message. They also diminish your credibility with an audience. The best way to minimize using such fillers is by simply becoming aware of when and how you use them. Tape, videotape, or get the help of a colleague to reduce and eliminate ahs and ums.


Find out more! To create a great story, get our great CD on Storytelling Tips, or sign up for personalized presentation coaching. Read more about eliminating fillers in this past issue. Also, please visit us at for even more speaking tips and resources!


Open with power the next time you give a presentation. Don't try to warm up an audience with acknowledgements or by restating information from your introduction. Instead, capture their attention with a story. As you do, notice how your listeners immediately begin to pay attention and eagerly wait to hear more.

It can be tempting to use ineffective words. We can start to use repetitive sayings that we don't even hear after awhile. We may also think that opening with a list of thanks or telling stories in the same old way is just part of our ‘style.' I challenge you instead to become even more powerful and effective. When you avoid useless phrases and speak with power, you Present Like A Pro!

Plans Change
  Thoughts from The Coach
I have to admit that when I get a handout from a speaker, I read through it all. I then wait anxiously to hear the first point shared and then the second, etc. When a speaker follows their own outline, it feels good. Things are going according to plan, and I like having a plan.

Sometimes, however, plans change.

For a planner like myself, this is very unsettling. I can handle doing things out of order, but a consistent destination seems critical. Anyone knows that the most effective stories and speeches have a point. And, once you have that figured out, why not devise a route to get to your destination and to effectively share your point?

Because, as I said, sometimes plans change.

I'm not really talking so much here about presentations (though the principles apply) as I am about life. Okay, specifically my life. Recently, here I was, working in my great company Present Like A Pro, Inc. when all of the sudden - or not so suddenly - the plans changed.

For those of you who keep track, you may have noticed that there were no newsletters in February. Or in March - until now.

To the planners and detail-oriented folks in my readership, I do apologize. It really isn't like me to say one thing and do another. The last I told you was that I would be doing these e-newsletters twice a month. You may be wondering, what happened?

By now, I'm sure you know the answer. The plans changed!

I am currently in the process of beginning a new direction in my work. I'll let you know soon what I'm up to. In the meantime, I intend to stay in touch with all of you now and then through these newsletters. Also, I am happy to answer your presentation questions and continue coaching on a limited basis.

Stay tuned for more details as this new direction is REALLY EXCITING! My expectation is to tell you more in April. But I'm not making promises because, well, you know...

The next time a speaker gives me an outline that they never speak to, I may have a little more empathy. After all, sometimes the plans change.

Special Offers
Need A Speaker? In addition to presentation coaching, Sara regularly speaks to corporate and community groups. Whether you are looking for something educational, motivational or inspirational, she will add humor and depth to your next special event. For booking information, contact Sara today at: 303-818-2509 or

Do you work at Ball Aerospace? If so, you can receive Presentation Coaching as part of the training offered by your company! Find out more at the TLC website.

Visit our website to view previous newsletters and to find out more about the free surveys available from Present Like A Pro.


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