This morning, I was watching one of the morning news programs.
There was some breaking news; a shocking story that came to the forefront of the attention of all commentators and ‘casters. I noticed something. Something I kept hearing over and over in the broadcasters’ conversations to one another.
I kept hearing the word “Obviously.” As the show’s anchors brought their various colleagues into the discussion, I kept hearing them chiming in, adding the word “Obviously” into their dialogue. They’d say, “Obviously, we can see here that…” or “That’s right, Steve. Obviously, you know that…”
Obviously, I might have a different opinion of the word, ‘obviously.’
When I was studying English, maybe it was in high school, maybe college, I remember a profound lesson coming from one of my instructors. Words and phrases that are simply a different way of stating, “It is my opinion…” are just not necessary to include in our essays. Things like, “It is my opinion that… ” or “My feeling about xyz are …”
Well, of course they are! You’re the author! Of course it’s the author’s opinions and feelings, to propose the particular thing they’e proposing, in their own writings. Enough said.
So back to the word, ‘obviously.’
Same deal. It’s a word that turns into a filler word, but is usually used in a slightly different way. If I were to choose synonym phrases for the word, I’d say it’s used instead of:
- “I don’t wanna sound dumb for pointing this out…” or
- “I don’t want to make you feel dumb just in case you didn’t notice the same thing I have…” or maybe
- “I need to take up more time with my presentation, and this word buys me half a second…” or even
- “I know that you may not exactly know the meaning of the very thing I’m pointing out, but now I have come across smarter to you…”
To provide just a bit more background, I think my feelings come from teaching, and observing students give their presentations in front of their peers in the classroom. I would often hear the filler word, “obviously” or its popular variant, “as you know…”
When students would take the podium and drop those in the middle of their explanations, it drove me crazy. Many of their peers did not even fully understand their topic, which was the reason for them presenting their findings to the class in the first place.
It’s just not needed. I propose, that instead of saying “as you know” or “obviously,” to simply report the thing or finding that is the topic of discussion.
See, I could sit in a presentation setting and talk about “Foundations of SEO” to a small group, and say, “Obviously” here and there, but realistically, most, if not all of my audience, would not have a clue about the concepts I’m trying to deliver. They might, but why assume it? The reason for my meeting would be to educate, fill in the gaps and dispel any myths about the topic.
Many organizations, while running their branding and awareness campaigns, assume too much of the public or even their intended targeted audiences. They might as well be saying, “Well, obviously, you are already aware of our services,” when the simple truth is their audience is not at all aware!
Sometimes, it just shows up in bad copy, packed with jargon and industry lingo. Which really makes assumptions and is like saying, “Obviously, you understand what these words mean.” People need more help understanding and connecting.
It’s better to assume that audiences are more out of the know than in.
So, obviously, it is my opinion, that the word obviously, gets thrown into the same category as ‘um’ and ‘ya know’ very often. Not all of the time, but much of it. I just wanted those anchors to tell the story of the breaking event, without interruption and without hearing “obviously.” Just say it already.