Stop Using These Five Expressions When You Speak

Have you ever listened to yourself talk and discovered you overuse certain expressions that don’t really help in getting your message across? I sure have. Today I want to share five expressions we must stop using when we speak if we are to make our communication more effective. Speaking-man-and-woman

One of the keys to learning any new language is to master the most common words used by native speakers. English being my second language I regularly find myself in situations where my accent is totally different from the native English speakers’ accents. Having to do quite a few public speaking, I have learned to accept my accent as an asset rather than a liability. Even though I am not trying to change my accent, more and more you will catch me using some expressions that we should all drop from our vocabulary.

With that said, the popular expression “When in Rome do what Romans do” is valid and I live by it as much as I can. That includes picking up good habits of the country hosting you, as well as not so good habits. Listening to myself speak and consciously resisting negative influences to the way I communicate verbally, I have identified the five most common expressions we must avoid using when we speak. These expressions are part of the daily vocabulary used by Americans in professional and informal settings. Learning to speak without the following expressions will make you a better communicator.

Here are the expressions:

  • It’s like

Examples are: It’s like he does not care about what I feel. It’s like you just want to make money out of this. It’s like nobody cares about how I feel. Instead, replace “It’s like” with “Apparently” or “It gives the impression”. True, it takes more time but in the long term you will feel better when you speak like that and you get complement on how well you use the language.

  • You guys

How about the gals, are they included? Popular examples are: How are you guys doing today? You guys having fun yet? I will see you guys tomorrow. You guys are amazing. Instead, replace “you guys” with “you.” The meaning is the same and it makes you sound less casual. Regardless of whether you are speaking with friends at the beach or with colleagues in the office, you will sound more refined when you drop “guys” and simply use “you.”

  • You know

No I don’t. Very popular examples: You know what I mean? You shouldn’t be doing this you know. You know I like it when you do things for me. Instead, replace “you know” with nothing. Just don’t say it. Unless it is part of a (sometimes rhetorical) question. Example: You know I do this because I care much for you, don’t you? If “you know” serves you as a pause filler, drop it.

  • I think

Any sentence or statement that starts with I think indicates uncertainty. You would probably not believe someone who thinks at the speed he or she speaks. It is expected that we think before we speak. The opposite is almost always guaranteed to cause (sometimes irreparable) damage. Think of two police officers (even one is enough) with their guns drawn on a civilian. If someone shouts “I think he has a gun,” what will most likely happen thereafter will not be pretty.

  • Whatever

This is often a problem when you use it by itself in response to a question or a statement. To be honest, the reason why I have this on the list is because I could not think of anything else as I was writing. Then I said out loud: whatever! Chances are if you took time to read through to this item, it means you are an educated reader who seldom uses that expression in his or her verbal communication. Is that true?

If you found the list useful, what other expression do you suggest or recommend people keep out of their vocabulary and oral communication?

How to market yourself as a professional speaker – lessons from Sheryl Roush

speak and market like a pro logo
Speak and Market Like a Pro logo

Do you sometimes feel like you must be paid for giving valuable advice and sharing your experiences through public speaking? Or maybe you already get paid for speaking, either as a speaking professional or as a professional speaker and wants fresh ideas that will help you increase your current fees? The Orange County Speakers Bureau is one of a group of professional and aspiring professional speakers who meet once a month to help one another improve their skills and share experiences. The March monthly meeting was a special event. The bureau hosted Sheryl Roush for a two hour educational session on Speaking and Marketing Like a Pro.

Sheryl was worth every single minute of my time spent at the workshop. I learned new things that will help me position myself better in the professional speaking arena. The objective of this post is to share my notes from the evening. This information is relevant for both professional speakers and public speakers who want to improve their skills and make (more) money speaking.

Here is the essence of what Sheryl delivered:

  1. Use different but professional and purposeful photos for your marketing material, including website and flyers.
  2. Always tell the audience who you are and how you relate to them.
  3. Thing big. Develop the mindset of someone who can and will speak to thousands of people, sharing your message.
  4. People want to take you home with them. Always provide audience members with a way for them to take you home. You can do that through books, CD’s, DVD’s, handouts, promotional flyers, and the like.
  5. Be driven by service to your audience, not money. Think specifically on how you serve the needs of your audience with your message.
  6. Conduct a self-assessment or self-evaluation (possibly with a coach or another professional) to uncover skills you have that might help you enhance the delivery of your message.
  7. Always focus on delivering a specific message to your audience.
  8. Take time to learn new skills and new things, but also take time to practice and apply what you learned.
  9. Protect your original and authentic ideas and materials with trademarking and copyrighting.
  10. Don’t write a speech, brainstorm a message.
  11. Work on your speech delivery backward. Start with the end and work backwards from there.
  12. Network effectively and you will be able to learn how to command higher fees.
  13. When you don’t have to, don’t memorize a script. Even if you do, don’t be scripted.
  14. Have a conversation with your audience members. Engage them and allow them to engage you.
  15. End the presentation where you began. Complete a full circle.
  16. Don’t name your speech. The message will reveal what it wants to be called.
  17. Record yourself every time and listen to yourself speak. Most people sound different when they speak and they don’t know.
  18. Be who you are, your authentic self, on and off the stage.
  19. Remember that your audience wants to play with you.
  20. You must develop the right mindset as you work on developing the skill set.
  21. Everything about communication is RESPECT.
  22. Meet your audience members where they are. Use their language and terminology.
  23. Seek first to understand before being understood. If you were in your audience member’s sits, what would you have wanted to hear?
  24. Tailor your presentations for the specific group you will address as much as you can.
  25. Always exceed expectations.
  26. Your marketing material needs to look as good as you want to be.
  27. When designing a flyer, your message should be so compelling that your prospect has no objection to calling you.
  28. On your marketing material ask questions that name the pain of your prospects.
  29. Don’t speak just to hear yourself talk. Always remember to speak to deliver a compelling message.
  30. Evolve. Everything about marketing is an evolution. You might have to re-package your brand a few times in your speaking career. That’s a good thing when done right.
  31. If you have a website, your one-sheet must be downloadable from the home page.

If you live in Orange County or Southern California and want to learn from a veteran of professional speaking, Sheryl has a few workshops coming up. Visit her website for her calendar and event schedule: http://speakandmarketlikeapro.com/event-schedule/. As I always tell audiences I speak to, the different maker between achievers and non-achievers, top performers and average performers, is action. Let me go start implement what I learn.

Before you act on the information above, which one of the nuggets is your favorite and how do you relate to it?

How to break writer’s block for non-writers

Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with typing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. For the past few weeks (more like month or two) I have not been able to write as consistently as I should. Every single day I feel the urge to write but I am always able to talk myself out of it. Can you relate to that? write

As I have heard legendary motivational speaker Les Brown say in one of his speeches, one of the keys to getting unstuck is to evaluate one’s position. What brought you here and what is it that makes you convince yourself not to write? Going through that exercise was revealing and I want to share with you what you can do to break your writer’s goal.

Here are three reasons why you and I don’t write as often as we could, and ideas on what to do about it so you can write more often.

1. You don’t make writing a priority

We find make time for the things that are important to us. If writing is a skill you want to develop or you just love expressing yourself through writing, you must make it a priority. How do you make it a priority without it affecting other equally important areas of your life? By setting a schedule for writing. It could be daily, bi-weekly or weekly. Make it as important as feeding your body. No matter what we have to do or how we spend our days, we always are able to find time to get something to eat. Make writing as important as eating to survive. Then you cannot not do it.

2. You let other writers or writings intimidate you

The easiest way to prevent yourself from writing is by looking at how much has been written already and say, my writing is not needed, or what I have to say has already been said. Even if what you have to say has already been said by someone else, it was not you. Two people can say the same thing, have one core message. Because of their unique life experiences, they will say it from different perspectives and therefore will be understood and received differently, sometimes by the same audience.

If you feel intimidated by other writers, make them your virtual allies by learning from them. Look for the things they do really well and see how you can develop their strengths in you.

3. You don’t have a plan

A plan can be as useless as a working clock during a ravaging storm, or as useful as a map during a road trip. If you don’t have an objective, a reason or a goal for writing, you will not be excited about the process. Some people’s end goal is to improve their written communication, others is to share their stories, and then others to publish books. Regardless of how simple or grand your end goal is, you need a plan to work with. Develop a plan to reach your end goal and you will have a map to guide you through the process. If you set-off for a multiple days cross country road trip, you will be more excited about waking up every morning when you have a good idea of what the day holds in store for you.

What other suggestion to help “non-writers” write do you have?

Best online and offline credit card processing services for entrepreneurs

Finding a reliable credit card processing company can be a real hassle for first time business owners, or entrepreneurs with a business idea. Last year a friend and I started a business providing an affordable referral service to medical doctors. Our clients were people needing uncommon prescription drugs. One of the reasons why the business did not do as well as it could have is because we could not find a payment processor who would do business with us. startup-payment-processing

There were various reasons. Some of the companies we reached out to had very strict requirements. That is understandable as there are a lot of regulations in the financial services industry, especially payment processing. However, when we see how simple it is get started and run a business with Square, it does not make sense when having to cross as many hurdles as we had to. We eventually had one of our payment providers freeze our merchant account with over USD $2000 in it. That was rough, especially for a group of enthusiastic and self-motivated entrepreneurs. That’s a story for a different day.

Having done quite some research to solve this credit card payment processing problem, below are my top recommendations for entrepreneurs starting a new business.

I have an account with Stripe and their platform and API is well documented for developers. Stripe charges 2.9% + 30¢ per successful charge, or less based on volume. Earnings are transferred to your bank account on a 7-day rolling basis.

My Spacebox.io account was created to take better advantage of the Stripe.io API. Spacebox.io requires you to have and connect your Stripe.com account to have access to their service and process your payments.

Dwolla is one of the most startup friendly payment processors. The charge just 25¢ per transaction or free for transactions $10 or less. Nobody beats this price.

Through very good PR and advertising campaigns, Square has positioned itself as the go to company for small businesses and individuals when payment processing is mentioned. I have a Squareup account and find their user interface very well designed. They will send you a free Square reader for your smartphone in exchange for a $10 donation to fight AIDS. Well worth the money.

Gumroad is the best platform is you want to sell and deliver digital files online. Digital files include electronic books, softwares, images, and anything else that can be sent via email. This is a great resource for those starting up with selling information online.

Flint is one of the latest startups in the payment processing sphere. With a smartphone and their app, you take a picture of your client’s credit cards and the payment is done. They claim to be very safe and secure, and the details of the credit card are not stored on the phone. Their service does not require a card reader. Worth a try. Their fees start at 1.95%

As mentioned on their website home page, FastSpring provides an all-in-one cloud-based e-commerce, merchandising & fulfillment platform. Sell your desktop software, SaaS, games, e-books or other digital products online—worldwide. I have not personally tried their service but it was highly rated when I did my research.

Amazon payments works, I have used them personally. For a company as big as they are, I must say that they do quite well with their customer service. My emails to them are always answered within the first 24 hours.

Do you know of any other startup friendly payment processing company or service that should be on this list? Mention it or them in the comments box below.