I heard a wonderful pitch recently that went very badly.
The q&a was every bit as much of a disaster as the pitch was wonderful.
There were three problems with their answers and I want to focus on the less common one.
So I will pass over (1) that the answers were much too long and (2) that many of them were wrong and…
Well, basically, of course, move to the unusual one.
Every answer included “Well, basically” and “of course.”
Every answer and almost every paragraph of every answer (they were long answers) included “Well, basically” and “of course.” At least a third of the sentences had both.
Well, basically, of course, my presumption basically is that when I hear this pattern, it is basically a sign of a non-native speaker of course.
Basically, since I only speak one language, of course, I am, basically not in a position to criticize someone who can make themselves understood in their second or third language, of course.
But, basically, I was so annoyed and distracted by the all “well, basically, of course’s” that even if the q&a session would have not failed for other reasons, it basically wouldn’t have left me with a good impression such I’d want a second meeting, of course.
While I am not in a position to criticize someone who can make themselves understood in their second language …
Of course, this is basically silly and prejudicial of me. And, well, basically, I shouldn’t react this way, of course, but I did.
When working with non-native founders, I make a point of mentioning artifacts of their speaking or writing that isn’t American English. Generally, this is one item per 3-5 minutes of speech. That evening it was two items in 20 minutes, but they each occurred many, many times.
It is a fair level of effort to remove these artifacts from speaking. As a mentor, an advisor, a teacher, or a friend, you are doing a great service to them by helping to start early on perfecting American English. Ultimately it might be the difference between successfully closing a huge funding round and not even getting a second meeting.
I do hear rumors that outside of Silicon Valley, some language other than American English might be more appropriate, but I never listen to rumors.