When we are talking about talking in our presentations, speeches, or video calls, we are distracting from our message.

I’ve never been good at predictions. But there’s one speaking behavior that is so common I can predict it with amazing accuracy. Watch for it on your next Zoom call, meeting, or phone call. Once you notice it, you may come to hate it. Here’s the scenario…

Two people begin to speak at the same time. They both stop, and (usually) the more extroverted (or maybe just more polite) person will step in and say, “No, you go ahead.” It’s now time for the interrupted speaker to say what they were going to say. And what they’ll start by saying, 99% of the time, is “I was just going to say…” I’ve found myself saying it. I don’t know why we feel so obligated to tell people that we’re going to tell them what we were going to tell them before someone told us it was our turn to tell them. It really makes no rational sense. And there isn’t even a politeness about it. “I was just going to say” doesn’t excuse us from any possible misstep. It’s fluff. Has little meaning. And isn’t a great way to connect with the audience.

“I was just going to say” is one example of a phenomenon we try to un-coach called Talking about Talking. They (and probably you, and frequently me – it’s easy to do) spend time on stage giving some indication that they are talking or about to start talking. Except that telling people that you’re about to tell them something is really a waste of time when you’re the speaker with the mic or floor.

Here are some other examples of phrases in the Talking about Talking genre (that should be eliminated):

Before we get started, I just want to say…
With that being said…
I’ve got this funny story / This is a true story…
Let me just tell you…
I heard this joke…
Let me tell you about….
I want to say this in an attitude of…
I want to share with you my thoughts about…
What I am trying to say is…
As I was thinking about today’s event I realized I need to address…
I love to tell this part of the story…
When I say that what I mean is…
I’ve left out the part…
How do I begin?
What I am thinking here is that…
I say this because…
I hope I’ve been clear.
I fear my words are insufficient…
As I bring it to a close…

This is more than just efficiency and eliminating a useless phrase. Talking about talking puts the focus on you speaking and not about the content your audience wants to hear. It is another way we fail to mind the gap – the difference between the experience of the audience and the speaker. We assume the audience cares or desires to know the internal, supportive backstory that led to the message. Or maybe it’s just a way to get our brain to stop thinking and start talking. Either way, it’s not good for the audience. It wastes time and distracts from our message.  Just get to the content. That’s why the audience came to you in the first place.

Communication matters. What are you saying?

www.MillsWyck.com

Related Videos:
WHAT NOT TO SAY Video Series

Related Podcast:
Listen to our quick, MillsWyck Minute Podcast Episode on Talking About Talking

 

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This article was published in the July edition of our monthly speaking tips email newsletter, Communication Matters. Have speaking tips like these delivered straight to your inbox every month. Sign up today to receive our newsletter and receive our FREE eBook, “Twelve Tips that will Save You from Making a Bad Presentation.”  You can unsubscribe at any time.