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Replace soft claims with solid details

by on
in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Captivating speakers abhor vagueness. They prefer to cite facts, numbers and vivid details.

If you’re trying to assert your authority to a skeptical audience, you might say, “I’ve been in this business a long time.” But you’ll drill home your point better if you say, “In my 18 years in this business, I’ve learned that …”

Making broad claims can backfire. Suspicious listeners might think your fuzzy wording is an attempt to fudge facts or avoid making a commitment.

To rivet everyone’s attention, start by citing a series of dramatic facts. Then use the rest of your talk to connect these facts and draw a powerful conclusion.

When you share an anecdote, provide a vivid backdrop. Give the time and describe the place. Example: “On Friday around 6:45 p.m., I remained at my desk typing away when the rest of the place was quiet. But there was a reason.”

If you want to cite evidence to back up your claim, summarize your evidence in the fewest words possible. Don’t insert lots of needless qualifiers.

Confessing that you usually don’t pay much attention to statistics or apologizing for quoting 2008 figures because 2009 data aren’t available yet won’t help your cause. It’s better to cite the source of your information succinctly and move on.

To strengthen your presentation, have a trusted peer listen to your practice run-through and point out vague phrases that you can solidify with hard-hitting facts. Root out evasive or noncommittal sentences and replace them with more concrete comments.

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