When presenting, most people utter the phrase “and so” way more often than they’d think.
It usually happens when they’re transitioning from one idea or thought to another.
It happens even more often when someone is clicking on slides, moving from one slide to the next.
“…and that’s how we got to where we are today.” Click to next slide. “And so, we see here, that next year is going to be challenging…”
As a speaker coach, I’ve found this to be one of the most common verbal crutches speakers use.
First off, what’s wrong with saying “and so”?
Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with the phrase… at face value. Saying it repeatedly may get picked up on by savvy listeners or audience members. They might lean over the person next to them, or think to themselves, “Count how many times they say ‘and so.’”
Such repeated phrases can become a subconscious annoyance to your listeners.
But the real problem with the phrase “and so” is what it belies.
When you say “and so” it really either one of two things (or both):
You’re not sure what’s coming next.
Your ideas are ordered without intention.
Reason #1 tells your listeners that you’re so focused on what you’re saying, you’re unsure of what the next slide will be. Surely you’ve felt this while presenting before. You’re finishing up what you want to say on slide 5… then, you click to slide 6… and only then do you realize what you’re going to say next. You’re as surprised, in that moment, as to what’s on slide 6 as your audience.
“And so” makes sense to your brain then because it’s a short-hand way of saying, “The next thing I need to talk about is…”
That’s a problem.
You don’t want your audience thinking you’re as unsure of what’s next as they are. You want to let them know you’re in control, you know the content, and the way one point naturally leads to the next makes sense to you.
Which leads to Reason #2.
Often, people put together content for a presentation without thinking about the ordering of their points. One point doesn’t lead to the next. Instead, one point just happens to come before the next.
Great presentations don’t just have an order—they build.
One idea is built upon the idea before it.
In great presentations, you couldn’t suddenly change the order of your points because those points have a logical, building progression to them.
"Because of this point, we get to that point…”
So, what’s wrong with “and so”? It’s an indicator that you don’t know your content well enough… and/or your content doesn’t lead from one point to the next. If it did, you’d more naturally use a “transition” phrase that indicates building, not just order.
What can you do about it?
Know your content well.
Order your content so that one point leads to the next rather than ordering it arbitrarily.
Write in your speaker notes the exact right transition phrase that will get you from one point to the next or one slide to the next. Here are some example transition phrases:
“Here’s how you can implement this…”
"Which leads to the question…”
“We prove this by…”
“You might be thinking…”
“Only when that is done can we consider the following…”
“Here’s an example of this in real life…”
Create content that flows, then know that content. Only then will you be able to pare back “and so” from your vocabulary.
Many speakers say “and so” when presenting and don’t realize it.
Speakers say “and so” when they don’t know their content and/or their content is ordered arbitrarily
Content that builds keeps speakers from being surprised by their next point and helps them transition from idea to idea more effectively.
What do do: To avoid “and so,” write content that flows and know that content well.
Learn all you need to know about organizing your content for an upcoming presentation and speech with our 12 Essential Content Questions online course...
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