What an Expert Doesn’t Say – a rant

kindasortaYou know those people who make a career of going to funerals?

Well, I go to presentations – panels, conferences, speeches, readings, performances, the like.  An occupational hazard.

Here goes my rant.

Everyone wants to be seen as an Expert in their field. Right?  Then why do some people give their power away and sound anything but the Expert they are?


I was at a reading this week of an author who is writing from his personal experience of being an expert in giving tours of a landmark in Washington, D.C.  He repeatedly peppers each sentence with “kinda sorta”.  NO!  There is no kinda or sorta.  It just is. Those filler words have me question his expertise.

I was at a dance performance on Sunday where the performers have hefty pedigrees and resumes.  During the talk back that followed the performance, the two dancers slumped over, dropped their voices, made little eye contact, and every question was answered with many “kinda sortas“.  It called into question whether or not they were actually embodied the way a dancer must be while performing. It felt inauthentic.

At a recent conference on gender equality, I was present when the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, spoke. (Iceland is #1 in the world in addressing gender equality initiatives)

Before even opening his mouth I knew his credibility. It was in his stature, his solid and steady demeanor, and his pace as he walked from his seat in the audience to the podium.

Here was a man who had to take his country from the brink of ruin in the financial crisis. He spoke with authority. There were no notes, no infographics. He held our gaze giving eye contact and shared his voice with the audience. He made me feel certain.

There were no kinda, sorta.  I felt in good hands. What a relief.

How to remove filler language from your speech?

  1. We know this one already. Be prepared:  Know your audience. Know your message. Rehearse
  2. Be embodied – connect to yourself physically, be grounded, heartfelt and centered. This way you are out of your head and into your body which will keep your words and actions focused and on target.


When you embody your message, you exude a steadiness so that people experience you as the Expert you are.

(The “kinda sortas” or “like”, “you knows” are removed)





Leave a Reply