Your audience wants you to succeed. They want you to do well so that they can be entertained, informed and inspired. Your self-confidence grows. As you become more confident, you build credibility.

Then you are introduced to three groups. You believe they will bring your speeches to a higher level. You expect a stronger connection with your audience.

It is not working, but you don’t notice it at first. You start losing credibility. Before you realize, audiences are enjoying your presentation, but are not convinced. Your message is not connecting. Your confidence is disappearing. You feel that you are regressing.

Looking back, you recognize you were focusing on these three groups too much. Your problem started then. It was subtle. It felt good. It felt right. But it was going all wrong.

What happened?


Can you uncover the reasons? What were those groups? What did they do?

These groups are not organizations, associations or businesses. I am referring to words - categories of phrases that can easily seep into your presentations. You think that they add strength to your message. They do not.

Let me introduce you to: the EXCUSABLES, the CONDITIONALS, and the INCREDIBLES. These phrases and comments are common to many speeches: common, but harmful.

EXCUSABLES: Your first goal as a speaker is get the audience to trust you. They should believe that you believe in your message.

You are excited as you walk to the lectern. You think that, to gain their trust, you should be totally honest. So you tell them the truth, basically saying, “Please excuse me if I don’t meet all your expectations:

• BUT, this is my first time.”
• BUT, I am not an expert.”
• BUT, I am just learning.”
• BUT, I am not sure.”

A few of you might say, “Maybe it’s the blonde in me.”

What did you just say? Essentially, “I am not ready to talk to you.” If you are not ready, then why should we listen to you? Come back when you are ready.

These phrases are often uttered out of nervousness. You make excuses. Your audiences do not want to hear excuses. Sure, they will be polite. They will listen. But they will not accept you or your message.

What should you have said? NOTHING! You do not have to apologize. Avoid the EXCUSABLES group. Keep those thoughts and that self-doubt to yourself.

CONDITIONALS: You want your audience to trust in what you say. They must believe that you know your subject, and your information is correct. So why do you begin your report with conditional comments?

• I think that . . .
• In my opinion . . .
• As I understand, . . .

You set provisional stipulations in case you were wrong. You say them because you start do doubt yourself. What if there is an exception? What if you missed something?

What are you saying? “I am not sure if what I am saying is true.” Your audiences do not want to hear that you are not sure what you are talking about. It should be fact. You should convince them that you are certain.

What should you have said? NOTHING EXTRA! You do not need to qualify your comments. Avoid the CONDITIONAL statements. Do your proper research. At least make it sound that you believe what you are saying. Don’t say, “I think that the sky is blue.” Just say, “The sky is blue.” Express full confidence.

INCREDIBLES: You want the audience to accept your message. You are excited. To add emphasis so that the audience will be fully convinced, you make a descriptive commentary to your facts and points, as:

• This is the best (worst) ever . . .
• Absolutely perfect.
• It is unlike any other.

What are you saying? By exaggerating your point to the extreme, the audience automatically starts to question them, and you. You make it harder for the audience to believe you. You have lost credibility.

What should you have said? Be reasonable in your qualifiers. Avoid making your points INCREDIBLE (not credible at all). You can underscore your points without advancing to the superlatives.


To gain your audience’s trust and confidence in your message, craft your words carefully. Avoid those groups that will erode the connection with your audiences: the EXCUSABLES, the CONDITIONALS, and the INCREDIBLES. Your credibility and your confidence depend on it.

Author's Bio: 

Fred Haley, published author and speaker, has been a member of Toastmasters for over 12 years. Fred has earned two Distinguished Toastmasters awards. His web site, is "Every Toastmaster's first stop for advice and resources." Fred publishes a weekly ToastMentor newsletter. Contact Fred at .