Mark Twain once wrote: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
Finding the right words when you’re selling your ideas is critical. Whether you’re pitching a client, presenting in a meeting, or making a point to a colleague in the hallway, you need to show you believe what you’re saying.
Small language changes may seem insignificant, but incorporating these six phrases can help you communicate how confident and fully invested you are. Do this and your listeners will be more likely to feel the same way.
1. “I believe”
The simplest and most powerful way of showing you are invested in an idea or a project is to use the expression “I believe.” For instance, I might say to a partner, “I believe we have an enormous market opportunity here,” and he will know I don’t say that lightly.
“I believe” is a much stronger choice than the related–but weaker–phrase “I think.” (As in: “I think that’s a good idea,” or “I think we should hire her.”) While “I think” makes us feel that the person speaking is still unsure or thinking it over, “I believe” is a persuasive declaration.
2. “I know”
Another confidence booster is the expression, “I know.” There’s a huge emphasis today on humility in leadership circles, and some people may be reluctant to use “I know.” However, if you are leading a team, and someone says, “I’m not sure I can get that report to you in time,” a good leader might respond, “I know you can,” or, “I know you’ll do your best.”
Similarly, when I work out with my trainer and he gives me a new and demanding exercise, I might respond with, “I’m not sure I can do that.” His answer is typically: “I know you can.” That gives me the confidence to believe in myself. It really works motivationally.
3. “I am confident”
When you hear someone say, “I am confident that this plan will deliver,” you’ll listen carefully to what follows and likely consider the proposal more seriously than if the speaker just said, “This plan will deliver.”
Similarly, if you tell your boss, “I am confident that this conference will fully engage our team,” she may ask you why you feel so confident, and that will give you an opportunity to sell your idea to her. “I am confident” provides a natural way to pitch a point or an initiative. (And if you aren’t genuinely confident in what you’re saying, you should likely go back to the drawing board.)
4. “I assure you”
Using the phrase “I assure you” also shows your conviction. Some leaders may say “I’m not sure about that,” or “It could be that,” to give their audience a sense that they are being honest in sharing their doubts. I even heard someone recently say she frequently uses the expression, “Here’s what worries me.” But such phrases are examples of poor leadership.
Instead, try using, “I assure you.” Phrases like, “I assure you that we have client buy-in” or, “I assure you that we can make it happen” are real confidence builders. And even when you are not sure of something, you can say, “I assure you I am giving this a lot of thought,” or, “I assure you we’ll make the right decision.”
5. “I envision”
This expression allows you to transport your audience from the present to the future. For example, if you are doing a performance review of someone on your team, you might say, “I envision a strong career trajectory for you in advertising, and the starting point is to do a great job with this art director position.” Such a statement provides a big-picture perspective.
You might also use this expression when talking about the future of a project or a program. For example, say, “I envision that this program will gain us many new customers.” Such language shows that you are fully invested in a future reality.
6. “I get it”
This last expression is more colloquial, but it serves the same purpose as the other phrases. When someone says to you, “I get it,” they’re showing you they have heard, understand, and believe in what you are saying.
This is a powerful response, because it assures the speaker that her point has registered. For example, a colleague might say, “I want to take on this new assignment,” and you say, “I get it.” Or, “I get that you are ready to commit to this.” This is an effective back and forth, as it allows you to move on to discuss how this can happen.
These six expressions shape your audience’s thinking by giving them a taste of your conviction. People will take their cues from such language, so use these expressions often, and you’ll find others respond positively.