5 Tips on How to Talk Like a Boss

If you want to position yourself as a leader, avoid these verbal crutches and throwaway phrases.

learn more about Tor Constantino

By Tor Constantino


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you've spent any amount of time around top executives or business leaders, you've probably found that most of them don't speak like your typical employee. There is a recognizable confidence, timbre and clarity to their vocal presence that can motivate and inspire the masses.

From Benjamin Franklin to Martin Luther King Jr. to Bill Clinton, great leaders are first and foremost great communicators all of whom are masters of the five following speaking tips.

1. Um, drop verbal crutches

These crutches are most pronounced during pauses that occur while delivering a speech or presentation. They can come in the form of unintelligible sub-vocalizations such as "um" and "er" which awkwardly fill the silence, or as a subconscious habitual cough, lip-licking or overused hand gesture. They can also manifest as any number of verbal ticks which can be distracting and ultimately undermine your credibility (think phrases such as "you know," "like," "frankly," or "to be honest"). The problem is that few of us recognize our own dependence on these crutches.

The quickest cure for this is to record yourself using a smartphone app speaking extemporaneously for a minute or two on any topic. Then, listen back and count how many of these crutches you use. This simple exercise will help you be more conscious when you speak.

Related: For Better Conversations, Replace 'How Are You?' With This One Phrase

2. Keep going despite verbal miscues

If you slip up or stumble over words while delivering a presentation or speech, don't stop and apologize. Keep going as if nothing happened. Most people don't even notice those types of verbal flubs until the speaker draws unnecessary attention to it by stopping and apologizing for the misstep.

Not only is that disconcerting to the speaker, it's disconcerting to the audience as well.

3. Avoid introductory qualifiers

These are those wishy-washy throwaway phrases that we work into our speech to be polite or build consensus -- phrases such as "perhaps," "kind of," "hopefully" or any other mealy derivative of the same. Such limp words will only weaken you and your status as a leader.

Related: 8 Writing Strategies for People Who Say They Can't Write

4. End sentences cleanly

Too often, people make great points but they keep going to the point where they talk themselves into a corner and don't know how to end the conversation.

So they tag on a throwaway phrase that adds nothing to the discussion. Examples of these types of sluggish nomenclature include "and what not," "things like that," and "you know what I'm saying."

These lazy linguistic lapses should be avoided at all costs.

5. One thought per sentence

This last tip will help eliminate most of the aforementioned issues. When we isolate one concept per sentence, verbal pauses between sentences can become powerful attention grabbers with no room for crutches. There's also less chance for a verbal mix-up if each sentence is a single, crisp idea. Plus, a punchy concept blasts through paltry qualifiers and sentence tagalongs.

Related: These 4 Phrases Are Sure Signs Your Team Isn't at Peak Productivity

Tor Constantino

Former Journalist, Current PR Guy (wielding an MBA)

Tor Constantino is a former journalist, consultant and current corporate comms executive with an MBA degree and 25+ years of experience. His writing has appeared across the web on Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune and Yahoo!. Tor's views are his own and do not reflect those of his current employer.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This 61-Year-Old Grandma Who Made $35,000 in the Medical Field Now Earns 7 Figures in Retirement
A 'Quiet Promotion' Will Cost You a Lot — Use This Expert's 4-Step Strategy to Avoid It
3 Red Flags on Your LinkedIn Profile That Scare Clients Away
'Everyone Is Freaking Out.' What's Going On With Silicon Valley Bank? Federal Government Takes Control.

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.

Business News

Amtrak Introduces 'Night Owl' Prices With Some Routes As Low As $5

The new discounts apply to some rides between Washington D.C. and New York City.

Business Solutions

This Highly Rated App Could Help Business Owners Stay Organized

Get your business in order with this personal organizer app on sale for $60.