Talking Points
June 2024

Speak Without Unwanted Words

You probably know what we mean. We’ve all done it. We stand up to make a presentation and unintentional words start spilling from our mouths. Uh. Ummm. Like. You know. Yeah. And. So. Okay.

They’re called “non-words,” “filler words,” and “transitory words.” What’s important is they affect how you’re perceived by others. If you want to be taken seriously, it’s time to do away with those words without purpose. Here are a couple of tips to get you started.

Listen To Yourself
Be aware of your words the next time you speak. Leave yourself a voicemail. Better yet, if you can, record yourself on video. You’ll quickly become familiar with your habits and discover what unnecessary words you use.

Now Breathe
Sure, we’re asking you to stop a behavior that comes naturally to you. But we don’t want you to worry yourself silly about it. Anxiety is your enemy. And if we’re completely honest, using an occasional non-word can make you look human. Your goal is to stop overusing filler words.

Take Your Foot Off The Gas
Nerves often make us rush through our speech. It’s okay to slow down. Slowing your delivery makes you deliberate and this will minimize the number of “ums” and “uhs” that leave your lips.

Embrace The Pause
The pause is your friend. Again, using them makes you deliberate. Try extending your pauses when you rehearse. Then try it during a live talk. The results might surprise you. You’ll sound more precise, and your audience will be more attentive.

Speak Up
When you project your voice, you become much more aware of unwanted words. Give it a go—you’ll see. Try experimenting with your energy and volume. You’ll find the level you’re comfortable with.

Speak Often
Practice makes you, well, perfect. (See what we did there?) It may sound cliché, but the more you practice, and the more you speak, the sooner those unwanted words will fade into your past.

One last thing. Don’t expect to speak like a pro overnight. It takes a little time and effort. But if you use the tips above, you’ll soon see the improvement you want.

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