Speaking

Pacing is the most common female challenge with talking. Speak slowly, especially on the phone and in international settings. If it is hard to do, find a few people who will nudge you after meetings and remind you beforehand. This is invaluable feedback to retrain the habit. Ask others, because we often do not realize how much of our messaging gets lost to speed. Favor fewer words rather than more. Avoid other common habits such as finishing sentences to sound like questions by turning up the pitch at the end. Avoid filler words such as “and, um, okay” in your speech—it takes constant practice and feedback, but is worth the effort to decrease or eliminate them.

Avoid popular buzzwords. Words to avoid: Literally. Robust. Velocity. Integration. These will change over time, but at any given moment, some words become overused and thus annoying. An expert shares: “I once heard robust used nine times in the first 10 minutes of a conference call from a vendor pitching consultant services. I did not hear anything he said except robust, robust, robust. I started thinking about robust bingo games colleagues could play to track the times it was said, and about why the vendor was saying robust so much.” Takeaway: Messages are undermined by the use of buzzwords.