I’ve been hearing a lot of people using the word “actually” lately. The use of the word is epitomized in the Adobe CS3 webcast… in the video below, go to the 22 minute mark and listen to the female presenter. See if you can count how many times she says, “actually.”
From the 22 minute mark to the 33 minute mark, I counted 38 “actually”s by the woman, and 3 by the guy. I actually did. (And I feel bad for this presenter, as I imagine she didn’t intend to do this. But hey, it’s a good video example to show the point…)
So this 11 minute slice, along with general observations of presentations and conversations I’ve witnessed, has led me to the following conclusion: people use “actually” in order to try and convey authenticity. Dictionary.com defines actually as “as an actual or existing fact; really,” and also, “used to express wonder, surprise, or incredulity.”
If you have to say you “really” do something, do you really do it? Or are you trying to give authenticity to what you’re saying, hoping people will believe you by stressing the fact that you “actually” do it? If you have to tell people to believe you, they probably aren’t going to.
Related, there’s an interesting article in Fast Company about authenticity and brands.
And remember what “actually” means if and when you use it. I’m not saying never use it. Just tell a believable story, actually.