“Kinda,” as in “kind of,” or its cousin, “sorta,” has become a staple of our professional vernacular. In presentations, meetings, and conference calls, “kinda” and “sorta” add a comforting conversational lilt, and can serve as less irritating filler devices than “uhs” and “ums.” But while the occasional “er” might be merely distracting or slightly irritating, using “kinda” and “sorta” can actually detract from your message, change your meaning, and even impact your listeners’ confidence in your material. Here’s why.
“Here’s what we’re kinda focusing on in the upcoming months.” Whether or not you are all in, hedging with vague filler words like these (and others) convey that you’re not solidly committed to your statements, or that you’re being purposely vague.
“Sorta” Skews the Stats
If your colleague says, “As you’ll kinda see from this chart, we’re kinda making some progress this year,” does that mean we are actually making progress, or did we sort of make progress? If the sales uptick was marginal, it could make sense to frame it that way. But it’s an easy phrase to use out of habit, and incorrectly. Be aware that, unlike filler “ums” and “uhs,” these words modify the meaning of the story we’re telling.
Your Credibility May Take a Hit
Message-muddying “sortas” and other hedge words can make you sound inauthentic. Studies demonstrate disfluencies such as “um” and “uh” affect listeners’ perceptions of the speaker. So, despite many weeks of research or months at the helm of a team, you might come across as unprepared and ineffective if you’re flip-flopping over filler words.
You Sorta Sound Submissive
Are your “sortas” and “kindas” tossed around in an effort to assume a more conversational, easygoing tone? Are you attempting to soften your stance or avoid a conflict? There are other ways to win over an audience or sound more informal without diluting your point.
It’s Kinda Habit Forming
Unlike the brain-pausing “ums” and “you knows” that pop up in our speech, “kind of,” “sort of,” “almost” and “pretty much” are common in our written communications as well. Again, there are occasions where using these terms in your writing make perfect sense and better illustrate your point, but they are dulling your effectiveness if you’re sort of just slipping them in and almost not even thinking about why.
So, next time you are addressing your colleagues, take care with these words and you’ll tighten up your presentations, improve your effectiveness, and inspire your listeners. And isn’t that kinda the point?
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
This was originally published on LinkedIn.com.