Let’s start by taping yourself doing a speech and count how many times you’ve said “um”, “uh” or “like”. Be honest and write each one down.
How many did you utter in the first 30 seconds? i hope not too many because the opening is where the audience really judge you and they’ll interpret your “ums” and “uhs” to mean that you are scared, nervous, and possibly unprepared. While it’s fine to be nervous, we don’t want to let the audience know that we are.
Saying “um” or “uh” is the equivalent of filling up pauses with punctuation; these sounds are space fillers – and we all know how annoying and distracting they can be.
So how do you get rid of these audible fillers? You need to recondition your brain. I give my clients stickers with the word um or uh in small type inside a red universal “no” symbol (a circle with a slash through it). Then we place this sticker on my clients’ watches, mobile phones, computer screens, or anywhere where they’ll see it constantly.
Try it. Every time you look at your watch, your phone or your computer, yet get a visual reminder not to say “um” or “uh”. After a day, you’ll still say it, but you’ll be far more aware of when you do. After a couple of days, just as you’re about to form the sound, the image of “don’t say it” pops into your mind. You almost catch it … but it still comes out. But after a week, the image will pop into your mind all the time and you’ll be able to hold in the filler word. Now you can simply pause, which will make you sound more comfortable, confident, and authoritative.
After that first week, all your “um” and “uh” problems will be solved!
Wanna let me know how you go? I’d love to hear!