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Public Speaking Fundamentals
Illustration by Neil Webb

Eliminating crutch words such as um, er, and uh


From:

Public Speaking Fundamentals

with Laura Bergells

Video: Eliminating crutch words such as um, er, and uh

How can you stop yourself from ordering verbal tics like um, er, ah, like, and so? Before we dive into how to stop verbal tics, I'd like you try three mindfulness exercises. First, practice awareness as you go about your normal daily, regular conversations. Listen intently for any circumstances where you might say a filler word or sound. Under what situations are you most likely to say filler words? Make a note of any patterns you find.

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Public Speaking Fundamentals
1h 4m Appropriate for all Aug 31, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Develop the skills you need to prepare and deliver an outstanding speech or presentation with our public speaking training. Author Laura Bergells offers practical insights that can help presenters prepare, open, deliver, and close their speeches. Along the way, discover how to project confidence, storyboard a speech, take questions, respond with thoughtful answers, and develop the creative story that adds life to a speech.

Topics include:
  • Identifying your audience
  • Developing credibility
  • Introducing an agenda
  • Exploring five strong opening techniques
  • Developing great body language
  • Understanding room dynamics
  • Handling questions and answers
  • Getting feedback
Subjects:
Business Presentations Business Skills Leadership Management Communication
Author:
Laura Bergells

Eliminating crutch words such as um, er, and uh

How can you stop yourself from ordering verbal tics like um, er, ah, like, and so? Before we dive into how to stop verbal tics, I'd like you try three mindfulness exercises. First, practice awareness as you go about your normal daily, regular conversations. Listen intently for any circumstances where you might say a filler word or sound. Under what situations are you most likely to say filler words? Make a note of any patterns you find.

Secondly, practice awareness as you rehearse. When you review the video of your rehearsal, note when you use filler words. What patterns arose? How did your use of filler sounds compare to your use of fillers in everyday conversations? Third, give yourself a break. A few ums and ahs are probably not going to ruin your presentation. It's even likely that they will go entirely unnoticed. It's only when you persistently overuse a filler word that they become distracting for your audience.

Practicing these three mindfulness exercises may be all you need to do to significantly reduce verbal tics from your speech. Many people find that simply being aware of their own verbal text helps prevent their overuse. If you'd like to dive a little deeper into preventing verbal tic abuse, consider these three insights. One, if you notice that you tend to use more filler words when you are nervous or you feel under pressure, relax; it probably means you are normal.

Most people who undergo mindfulness exercises find that they increased their um rate when they feel stressed out. I like to give myself a positive remainder. I'll say to myself internally, okay, that's your last um for the day. If I say that to myself, I can't help but smile a little. Reducing the stress with a little positive reinforcement reduces the ums. Secondly, you can reduce the situations that cause you stress. So if you're thinking, oh! But it's public speaking that gives me stress, so I'm doomed. Well, guess again.

You can greatly minimize the stress of public speaking by preparing and properly rehearsing your presentation. As a result, your filler word rate will go way down. Lastly, I want to share a story with you about the danger of using bullet points in your presentation. When I ask students to come to the head of the class and share the results of a group brainstorming session, most begin by reading a list. Before every item on the list, they usually say, um; however, when I ask the student to tell me a story that illustrates a point on the list, the verbal fillers almost disappear.

When we share stories, we are much less likely to use those filler words. However, when we read or memorize lists, we are far more likely to add filler words. Go through your presentation. Find any areas where you might be reading a list or using bullet points. Eliminating bullet points not only eliminates the ums from your presentation, it helps you to better engage your audience with more powerful storytelling.

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