Which two little words can kill your confidence?

By Laura Bergells on

Kill I think

When I act as an editor for an opinion piece, I frequently strike the phrase “I think.” I remove those two little words because they can actually kill a speaker’s confidence!

Let’s take a look at an example, taken from an attempt to persuade a client.

Read these two sentences aloud:

  • “I think this commercial is going to be extremely effective.”
  • “This commercial is going to be extremely effective.”

Can you hear and feel the difference? Which one sounds more confident and persuasive?

The second statement packs much more emotional punch. Consider the “I think…” phrase as a fluffy pillow that softens the strength of your conviction. The phrase actually weakens the confidence you feel for your own opinion.

When you’re stating your opinion, simply state it. There’s no need to put a fluffy pillow on it. That’s what my designer friends might call “inelegant”.

Luckily, this is an easy fix. The next time you edit a speech, presentation, or essay — run a quick search for the “I think” phrase on your word processor. Simply removing it can make you feel and sound more confident.

Keep your ears open. Now that you’ve read this post, how many times will you hear or see the phrase “I think” in the next 24 hours? You might be surprised to find out that people say or write it more than you, uh, think!

7 comments

  1. Yes! It’s amazing how starting to become aware of something makes you see/hear it all the time. In Toastmasters they teach us to try to avoid “uhms” and “ahms”… This has changed my life, for the better in terms of speaking, but (I must admit) for the worse in terms of listening because people can’t help but to use them aaaaaallll the time.

    Thanks for this post. I’ll avoid the “I think” bit :)

  2. Thank you Laura for this advice! I teach public speaking and provide speech coaching. You’re right — when the speaker utters the phrase, “I think…” a little piece of their credibility is lost, so I will keep this mind!

  3. Very good point…. confidence is everything in public speaking, and “I think” creates a completely counterproductive psychological effect on the individual. Be strong in your thoughts – you are the authority! Thanks for sharing Laura :)

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  6. Little Johnny said, “I think…”

    “Shut up!” his dad said, “You don’t know nothing.”

    I think you’re right; From now on I’ll work on exorcising “I think” from all my presentations.

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