6 Words to Stop Using in Meetings

Words can be a conversation-starter or a conversation-killer. They have the power to build someone up or break someone down. And in the event planning world, words are of extreme importance. You must present ideas on a regular basis, take phone call after phone call, respond to emails throughout the day—words, no matter how you present them, are the key to business. Sure, PowerPoints of pie charts may not “say” much while expressing information. Ultimately, however, you’ll have to turn that graph into—you guessed it—words.

So, it matters what words you’re using. It can be easy to under-prepare—say, not practicing a speech before the presentation, or using filler words (we’re all guilty of the occasional “like”)—and, true, sometimes the best points are off-the-cuff remarks. In general, it’s important to choose your words carefully. Here, we’ve compiled a list of six words you might want to avoid at your next meeting—and options for replacing them with more productive ones.

  1. Should. “Should” feels less like a guiding word and more like a pushy best friend. Instead, use a phrase such as “If I were in your position…” or “Have you considered…” to express a helpful suggestion. It removes judgement and allows for more objective responses.
  2. But. When it comes to presenting an alternative point of view, you might want to steal a trick from improv comedians and build on other ideas by saying “yes, and…” Or, acknowledge the point and pivot with, “I see what you’re saying; let’s expand on that.” People will feel heard and less alienated.
  3. Never. Never say never—truly. This immediately puts people on the defensive, causing a team to either shut-down or turn on each other. Rather, say “at this moment, we will not be…” That way, there’s no ominous word lingering in the air and no hurt feelings.
  4. Sorry. Unless you are responsible for something, omit sorry from your vocabulary. You undermine yourself each time you say, “I’m sorry, I have an idea.” Your idea is worthy of being heard, so say it without the apology.
  5. Literally. Let’s be honest: you most likely know you’re using it the wrong way. Banish this word from your vocabulary unless what you are describing is exactly what happened, and even then, why would you need to clarify that?
  6. Really. It’s not a filler like “like”; however, it’s close. There is almost always a word that is synonymous to your “really + adjective.” It doesn’t have to be a complex word to omit “really.” You aren’t really excited—you’re thrilled. You’re not really annoyed—you’re irked.

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