How to Be a Better Public Speaker and Writer – Use Plain Language

Executive Speech Coach & Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker, Patricia Fripp in Action
Executive Speech Coach & Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker, Patricia Fripp in Action

Many of my readers and attendees at my public speaking classes, coaching camps, and keynotes on presentation skills know I frequently quote Jerry Seinfeld who says, “I will spend an hour taking an eight word sentence and editing it to five.” In his world he will be funnier. In the business world we will be more compelling. Thanks to Ragan Communications and the bright folks at Daily Writing Tips who have shared this list of bulky phrases and their plain-language substitutions. Enjoy and see if you can catch yourself using phrases that could be included on this list. If you need to take your presentation skills to the next level of professionalism, why not join Darren LaCroix and me in Las Vegas for our How to Create and Deliver Powerful Presentations Coaching Camp? Happy speaking and writing!

50 Plain-Language Substitutions for Wordy Phrases

By Mark Nichol

Bulky phrases like “in order to” and “due to the fact that” have no place in your writing. These one-word replacements will streamline your copy.

You don’t need to summarily replace the following phrases with more concise alternatives, but consider making the switch, especially when you find yourself using various wordy phrases frequently in the same text.

1. A number of: some, many
2. Afford an opportunity: allow, let
3. An appreciable number of: many
4. As a means of: to
5. As prescribed by: in, under
6. At the present time: now
7. By means of: by, with
8. Comply with: follow
9. Due to the fact that: because, due to, since
10. During the period of: during
11. For a period of: for
12. Has a requirement for: needs, requires
13. Have an adverse effect on: hurt, set back
14. In a timely manner: on time, promptly
15. In accordance with: by, following, per, under
16. In addition: also, besides, too
17. In an effort to: to
18. In close proximity: near
19. In lieu of: instead of
20. In order for: for
21. In order that: so
22. In order to: to
23. In regard to: about, concerning, on
24. In relation to: about, to, with
25. In the amount of: amounting to, for
26. In the event of: if
27. In the near future: shortly, soon
28. In the process of: (omit without replacement)
29. In view of: because, since
30. Is applicable to: applies to
31. Is authorized to: can, may
32. Is in consonance with: agrees with, follows
33. Is responsible for: handles
34. It is essential that [one]: [one] must
35. It is incumbent upon [one] to: [one] should, [one] must
36. It is requested that you: please
37. Pertaining to: about, of, on
38. Provide(s) guidance for/to: guides
39. Relative to: about, on
40. Set forth in: in
41. Similar to: like
42. Successfully accomplish/complete: accomplish/complete
43. Take action to: (omit without replacement)
44. The month (or year) of: (omit without replacement)
45. The use of: (omit without replacement)
46. Time period: period, time
47. Under the provisions of: under
48. Until such time as: until
49. With reference to: about
50. With the exception of: except

Versions of this article originally appeared on Daily Writing Tips and Ragan Communications.

Bulky phrases dilute your message and bore your audience. If you are preparing a presentation, record yourself and then listen carefully to find and eliminate these phrases from your talk.

Create & Deliver Powerful Presentations Champ Camp
Create & Deliver Powerful Presentations Champ Camp

My executive speech coaching clients include corporate leaders, celebrity speakers, well-known sports and media personalities, and sales teams. You can learn many of the public speaking secrets I share with my executive speech coaching clients at my events or through my learning materials.

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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker, Patricia Fripp is hired by individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.