The Most Annoying New Phrase In Public Speaking. Right?

Last week, attending one of the nation’s top gatherings of business leaders, government officials and top speakers, the Mackinac Policy Conference, I was exposed to intriguing perspectives from the Conference stage, along with the most annoying new trend of public speakers and conversationalists.


Since last year, I have noticed speakers, in one-on-one discussion, in meetings and in public forums irritate audiences with a new mental-verbal hesitation device. But it was particularly rampant from the Mackinac stage.


Yes. That’s right. Like a virus that seems to spread from meeting to meeting, conference to conference, speakers now feel the need to make their point then, out loud, ask the rhetorical question, “right?” It’s like “you know what I’m sayin?'” for the educated.

At first, I took this as a sign of arrogance, like the speaker needs verbal validation from the audience to boost confidence in the points the speaker was trying to make by receiving nodding heads in return. In some cases, that could be true. But, since I heard it so frequently last week, I am now convinced it’s just a verbal crutch – the latest tool the subconscious uses to buy a second of time to think of what should be said next, like “aaah,” “umm” and “you know.”

Whatever the reason, it’s counter to strong verbal communication. As a speaker, whether it’s across the table or across an auditorium, it’s important to verbalize your messages clearly. Cluttering your speech by asking “right?” after a bold, declarative sentence forces your audience to think about why you are asking if it’s “right?” instead of full attention to the message itself.

In this case, “right?” is wrong.