The strongest message can be diluted by an inappropriate choice of words. The message may not be perceived as confident or business-oriented as you really are. Your message is three-fold: body signals (do they match what you’re saying?), tone of voice and choice of words.

Business language is different from social conversation. Avoid using “empty” modifiers such as thanking a sales representative “ever so much,” or referring to a job applicant as a “lovely person.” A better choice of words would include bright, intelligent, quick wit, etc.

Instead of saying, “That was great!” try “I felt you gave an excellent and thorough presentation. It will be very helpful to us.”Exclude “tentative” words such as “I was kind of wondering if” or “I think we could try.” Eliminate “well,” “sort of,” “kind of” and “maybe” from your business vocabulary. These phrases all show uncertainty.

Leave out cold and dictatorial commands. Use “please,” “when you can,” and “what do you think?” which are better choices.
Harsh: “I want to talk to you.”Uncertain: “May I talk to you?”
Confident: “I want to talk with you when you’re free.”
Consider the kind of message that each of the following phrases projects: “Maybe you could call tomorrow?” “Call tomorrow.” “Please call tomorrow as soon as you can.” The third is the most favorable for cooperation.

Self-effacing: “I know this sounds stupid, but…” Apologies don’t contribute to the speaker’s image of a confident professional. Instead, it is better to say, “Tell me if I’m on the right track with this, I believe…” Be careful not to raise your voice at the end of each sentence: “Hello? This is John? I’m calling about your monthly report?” It gives the impression of uncertainty.

Force yourself to stand tall, walk with authority, look others in the eye and speak up. If you’re nervous, you may need to speak more slowly and lower your pitch (especially if you’re a woman).

Remember: Winston Churchill was a self-made speaker. He was 5/5” tall, stuttered, lisped and had little college education. He was so terrified of public speaking that he passed out while delivering a speech to the House of Commons. However, he practiced his speeches for four hours and became a great orator and statesman! A little determination and practice can go a long way in building greater credibility and stronger relationships!