Wednesday, September 29, 2010

High-Impact Public Speaking; Eliminating Uhs and Ums, Filler Words, and Other Verbal Tics From Your Oral Communications

In a post a few weeks ago, I discussed how the unrelenting use of uhs and ums, and filler words such as actually, basically, and you know can be extremely irritating to the listener and can eviscerate your presentation or interview. As promised, here are some thoughts on how to expunge these verbal tics and other annoying mannerisms from your system.

(a) Solving the problem on your own: First you must make a conscious effort to find out what sort of tics or disfluencies you utter frequently. I say this because many who suffer from such a flaw have no idea that their speech contains a preponderance of uhs and ums, or you knows, or basically/essentially/actually, and so on. The best way to find out is to quietly ask one or two people in the audience to give you some feedback each time you make a presentation. You could also request people in the office, especially those who can hear you speak on the phone or who often attend the same meetings that you do, or family members at home. Then, having sized up the problem, stick little post-it notes or other helpful reminders on your office desk or wall, or any other place that you often stare at while on the phone. Carry a sheet of paper with such self-admonitions into each meeting.

(b) Through outside help: Join a Toastmasters club. When I first became a Toastmaster, every sentence of mine contained a spate of uhs. Yet, within just a few months, I had almost banished them from my speech! Today, even during my long workshops (1- to 2-day affairs) the audience will scarcely find me uttering more than a total of one or two uhs.

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