Every time you speak, you have a chance to make or break your business. That's why it's so important to choose your words with care. So says Donald Weiss, author of Why Didn't I Say That?, who suggests we eliminate the "ahs" and "uhs" from our vocabulary because they make us sound unsure and ill at ease. Use active sentences, such as "We need to fix this now," instead of the more passive "This is in need of some attention."

How we speak is just as important as what we say. Don't talk too loudly-or too fast. People are more apt to listen when spoken to in a relatively slow, lower tone of voice.

So be aware of how you sound. Powerful speech patterns can strengthen your image and influence.