These may not seem like big deals, but they are. The world is oftentimes far too uninteresting a place, thanks to the inability to communicate with verve and aplomb.
The wasted words. The lack of vigor. Verbal tics that cause conversations to be grating upon the soul.
Stop these three things now.
1. Thesis followed by evidence
I heard the perfect example of this on a podcast recently. A woman was discussing cheeseburger preferences when she said, "I don't do any condiments at all on my burger. No catsup. No mustard. No relish. No mayonnaise."
In conversation, we do not require a person's thesis statement to be followed by the supporting evidence. We are not writing a scholarly paper. Either summarize the evidence ("I don't do any condiments") or present the evidence (list the condiments), but please don't do both unless listing them will provoke an emotional response (a laugh, tears, surprise).
We understand what "no condiments" means. No need to list the condiments, even for emphasis. We get it.
I hear this verbal tic all the time. I hate it so much.
2. Laughing at your own statements.
If you are funny, other people will routinely laugh at the things you say. With rare exceptions, you are not supposed to laugh at the things you say. Yet this egregious and abrasive tic is surprisingly prevalent in the world. People make a statement and then laugh at that statement all the time.
There are people who laugh at the end of almost everything they say.
I'm convinced that these people don't even realize that they're doing it, so please don't read this and assume it's not you. It might be. Pay attention to the way you speak.
If this is you, stop it. We all hate you for it.
3. Attempting to recall insignificant details at the expense of the momentum of a story.
How often have you been listening to a person tell a story, only to watch that story grind to a inexorable halt when the person telling the story begins to debate a meaningless detail?
Was the woman's name was Sally or Samantha?
Was the town was Bethesda or Barksdale?
Was it 1986 or 1987?
These are details that mean something to the storyteller but nothing to the audience, and when we tell stories, the audience's needs are the only ones that matter.
Stop fussing about details that won't ultimately change the story. Many, many things are required to tell a good story, and pacing is one of them. Making your audience (whether it's one person or one thousand people) feel like your story has energy and momentum is critical to maintaining their attention and ultimately entertaining them.
We don't care if her name was Sally or Samantha. We don't care if it happened in Bethesda or Barksdale. We don't care if it was '86 or '87.
Just pick one and move on.