Get Rid of Your “Um’s”

Public Speaker Image (Smart Meetings)

Have you ever heard a speaker who punctuated each sentence with “um?” Did you ever get distracted by the excessive use of “like?” Have you ever found yourself counting the “ya knows?”

When someone asks, “What do you do?” is your first word “um?” If your answer needs to be a 30-second intro or a speech of five or ten minutes about your business, you should probably get rid of your “um’s.” They kill your credibility and make you sound dumb.

We use “um” and other filler words (“like” “ya know”) to fill that dreaded silence. The dread comes from the fear of being interrupted when you pause. In the olden days, some of us worked in the corporate sector, when the “good ol’ boy” bosses interrupted their employees and peers – - mostly female. Research shows men interrupt women far more than the other way around. Interruptions represent power: someone has taken away your right to speak.

But it’s a new day. To grow your business, you need to speak. Tell yourself you won’t be interrupted. An audience won’t jump in the moment you hesitate. People will not take away your power. You don’t have to keep talking to keep your turn as the speaker. Practice your speech on your own. Then practice with friends. Replace the “um” with silence. You’re not teaching yourself to get rid of the “um,” you’re replacing the “um” with silence. You’re speaking deliberately enough that you don’t need to fill the space.

Here are 3 tips to get rid of your “um’s”:

1. Write each talking point on a separate note card. Use Mimi’s 7 simple steps to organize your speech.

2. Double space your notes for easy reference.

3. Practice. You can lead a speaker to a speech, but you can’t make them practice. Please practice. Call me if you need encouragement or help in crafting your speech from the start.

A world without “um’s” is beautiful place.

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