Are your speech habits preventing you from projecting a positive image? No matter how brilliant you are, a lack of speaking skills may be holding you back from even more success. But, there are simple ways to polish your speech, according to Sabina Nawaz in an article for Inc. “In a fast-paced, limited-attention-span world, you won’t get a large word budget,” she explains. “Crisper speech is interpreted as crisper thinking.”

She goes on to share easy, simple speech changes that can help:

Stop using “so” as a filler

Does the word “so” pepper your speech? If it does, make an effort to nix the filler word to appear more polished and confident. Nawaz writes that “so” gives the impression that you are asking permission. Try one of these tactics instead:

  • Say a person’s name instead. Instead of saying “So here’s an overview,” say “Sarah, here’s an overview.” It sounds more professional (and personal!).
  • Pause before speaking. Instead of starting with “so,” stop and take a breath. Then, speak with intention. Others will view you as thoughtful and grounded.

Quit using “I think” as a qualifier

“When you frequently use ‘I think,’ you sound unsure–like you’re trying to establish your competence,” Nawaz explains. Instead, she suggests simply stating your opinion. There’s no need to begin a sentence with “I think.” Just say it, and your audience will naturally assume that what you’re saying is based on what you think.

Check out Nawaz’s entire article for all of her suggestions, and you’ll find that her tips are easy to incorporate and can greatly improve your image. As Nawaz writes, “clean speech isn’t window dressing; it’s a powerful leadership tool for being heard, influencing others, and, ultimately, getting what you want.”