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  • Writer's pictureErin Bailey Lake

How to stop "wordslumming" and become a more precise speaker.

Wordslumming is a term I coined to describe those needless words and phrases that creep into our language.

Wordslumming can clutter your message and undermine your credibility.

Some examples I've heard in recent coaching sessions:

(my comments in brackets).

As you may or may not know… [Is there a third choice?]

Needless to say… [Then it doesn’t need to be said.]

As I stated previously… [They heard you the first time.]

It goes without saying… [Then why are you saying it?]

To be quite honest… [Are you sometimes not honest?]

In my opinion, I think… [In who else’s opinion would you think?].

No disrespect, but… [You are about to disrespect someone.]

Can I ask you a question? [As if you’re not going to ask it anyway...]

Another form of wordslumming: Pleonasm

A pleonasm is a form of redundancy - or word clutter. These are so common, we use them without thinking.

Some examples:

Plan ahead.

Free gift.

Sum total.

Past history.

Regular routine.

Unexpected surprise.

New innovation.

New and Improved.

True fact.

The words we use affect the way we (and our audience) think and act. Replace word clutter with precise, visual, meaningful language.

And finally, let’s conclude…

(Just kidding with this subhead – we know better.)

Let’s conclude with some needless “intensifiers.”

Very unique

Extremely vital

Totally inadequate

Pretty ugly

Unusually gifted

Completely useless

Entirely unnecessary

Utterly ridiculous

Now, this may feel like separating the gnats from the pepper; but remember, the goal is precision – and awareness is the first step.

If you’d like to minimize wordslumming and become a more precise speaker, we’re here for you. Contact us: or

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