Crisp It Up

Crisp It Up

Whether you’re writing a keynote, prepping for a presentation, or just writing an email, there are a few words you should strike from your vocabulary. You might read this list, and think to yourself, “Hey. There’s nothing wrong with that word!”

But conversational speech is much different from a well-rehearsed pitch. When you’re trying to compel your audience to do something, quite simply, shorter is better. Make it succinct, and you’ll pack much more punch.

In that spirit, here are some words I try to avoid:


If you say “the cat ran very fast,” why not just say “the cat sprinted”? It’s shorter and more impactful.


Scan your inbox or your desktop. Chances are you will see the word “that” in any file you open.  Chances are “that” is totally unnecessary. If you don’t need it, remove it.


This is a word that is both over and incorrectly used in most cases. If you don’t mean “to astonish” or “to surprise,” you can find another word to impart how incredible, ground-breaking, or special (I think you see where I’m going) something is.


Are you using “literally” to mean that something actually occurred? If not, you’re speaking figuratively. Literally is a word you will rarely use in more formal communications.


Prior to making your case, you’ve thought through your argument and done your homework. As such, you shouldn’t have any use for “maybe.” If you’re using maybe, rethink how you’ve phrased your thought. I bet you can make it more certain, which will make your argument that much stronger.

So now you’re ready to go out and affect real change through your words. Now whether that change is getting a coveted parking spot at the office, or curing cancer – that’s up to you.

team Zum