• Shannon Broadwell

Just a minute

I just want a new car.

I just want my family healthy.

Could you just give me a minute?

That little word “just” pops up a lot when we are speaking and it is no exception during public speaking events. I noticed this at church this morning when several people were giving their testimonies. I found the stories compelling, but that tiny little word took away so much power from their messages.

I get it.

It is a habit for most of us to sneak it into what we’re saying. We do it as communicators to “soften” our message and it is a common tool that women often use when asking for something. In fact, during grad school this was an aspect of female communication we were instructed to offer our gender spectrum clients looking for more feminine communication styles.

Problem is, this small word can take the strength away from your message. Why? Well, what does it really mean? As an adverb it can mean “exactly”, “recently”, “barely” or “simply.”

Wait, what?

Exactly AND barely? How does that make any sense?!

This is the problem when speakers use it to convey their message. Putting in the “just” causes the listener for that brief moment to work a bit harder to find the meaning you intended and then they're stumbling to catch up. It also conveys to the listener that maybe YOU don’t really know which one you mean, so your message is not as effective as you'd like.

You might want to keep this in mind when shaping your next presentation.

But that’s just my opinion. ;)



One of the most common dreams of public speakers I have heard in recent years is “I want to give a Ted Talk” or rather “ I want to give a HUGE Ted Talk”. This is why for January 2019, the Broader Voices Book Club is featuring “Talk Like Ted” by Carmine Gallo. Follow us on Instagram @broadervoices to find out more about #broaderbookclub

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