Tips to eliminate ums, ahs, and other empty words to give your speech more power and impact and make you sound like a more confident speaker
You’ve all heard it before. What would otherwise be a great presentation becomes one interrupted jumble of ums, ahs, like, and you knows. Empty and meaningless words filling a gap by a speaker. Just as crutches support our body following an injury, Crutch Words often support our verbiage when we’re not sure what to say. Here’s an overview of crutch words and some tips we can use to eliminate them from our vocabulary.
Eliminate Crutch Words to be a Powerful Speaker
Eliminating crutch words is one of the fastest ways to improve yourself as a speaker. Not only does it display confidence to your audience, but you become easier to understand as your message gets across. It isn’t easy to do, but if you can nuke those um’s and ah’s you are one step closer to winning over the crowd.
Don’t Fear the Silence
Um’s and ah’s come because as a speaker you naturally want to avoid silence. You’ve been conditioned for two-way conversations. Not talking and the silence can be terrifying. When you pause, you get feedback from the other person and the conversation continues. On the stage, it is only you.
The first way to combat crutch words is to realize silence is a good thing. Few speakers talk too slowly with too many pauses. Pauses help emphasize points and give listeners time to understand and absorb what you are talking about. Remember, although you may be an international expert and have a memorized speech, the audience needs more time to interpret what you plan to say.
How to Combat the Crutch
Here are some suggestions for becoming a pause artist and eliminating crutch words from your presentations:
Practice, practice, practice!
You should know your presentation backwards and forwards before giving it. If you spend all your time thinking of what to say next, you can’t put emphasis on avoiding crutch words. Once you eliminate crutch words you can deliver unprepared speeches more effectively, but it is hard to cut the um’s if you aren’t prepared.
Breathe In, Not Out
When you feel the temptation to ummm your way through a point, breathe in. This may add a pause to your presentation, but it will be far better than an ugly crutch word which blurs sentences together.
Avoid them in Conversation
You speak all the time. Watch your crutch words when chatting with friends and family. If it helps on stage it will help in a conversation. Plus you`ll get far more practice.
Get a Counter
If your giving an important speech, get a friend to count the amount of times you utter an um or ah. Keeping numbers makes you highly aware of when your using these speech-killers.
Comma = 1 pause
Make a note whenever you are doing a presentation that every comma you encounter should have a pause attached. You might want to run through a list of ten items as if they were one thought. But force yourself to give a short count in between each item. Your audience will thank you for the added emphasis and clarity.
Period = 2 pauses
The end of a sentence requires twice as much pause. There is a time-delay between hearing your words and registering their meaning. Don`t cut over this step by blurring together your sentences.
Double Underline for Emphasis and Impact
Underline key words and phrases and double underline especially important ones. This is a technique I learned from a former radio broadcaster. It helps you understand where to slow down and emphasize an individual word. When you slow down to emphasize words, this reduces the temptation to inject crutch words in between.
If You’re Lost, Don’t Panic!
Um`s come in when you don`t have your next sentence ready. Your mind is still constructing what you want to say next, so you feel throwing a few um`s will fill the space until your ready. Don`t do this! Instead take a quick pause before moving on. The audience won`t notice and it will make your presentation smooth.
Enthusiasm Cuts Crunch
Imagine the presentation you have to give was the most critical information the audience needed to hear. When you engage emotionally with your speech topic, it becomes easier to emphasize points and avoid crutch words. If you aren`t engaged, you might feel the urge to preface statements with crutch words to downplay their importance.
Plan Tricky Parts
Know your conclusions and introductions word for word. Also plan out any tricky parts of a presentation you might have difficulty explaining. If you are preparing a business proposal and want to cover a sticky issue delicately, know that section word for word.
Quality over Quantity
Speaking is a fairly inefficient medium for delivering large volumes of information. Emphasize only a few points in a speech, but emphasize them well and with repetition. A good way to have a presentation filled with um`s and ah`s is to cram a five minute speech with twenty minutes of information.
Thanks to Scott Young @ email@example.com for some text content and research.
Tips for shy, introverted, or quiet people to become better speakers, shared by a geeky speaker who overcame his awkwardness to deliver a great performance.
Consider this for a second: Here I was, an introvert which hasn’t spoken publicly for over five years and I was making my Web 2.0 speaking debut at the Super Bowl of ‘social media’ conventions. I was scared to death. If this ended up a smaller affair, I probably wouldn’t have gone through with it. But given it was SXSW it had been ‘too big’ to be able to ignore. I knew that being able to say I chatted at SXSW was too important to not have about my ‘speaking’ resume.
So I tad the bullet, and did it anyway. Now couple of years later, I have gone from as a possible introvert that’s scared to death regarding speaking publicly, to an introvert that basically LOVES it. For almost any introverts out there that are looking to start conversing, here’s what I learned to produce me more at ease the process:
Through the creation process:
1 – REALIZE your material, usually do not memorize it. Extroverts are just naturally chatty folks, right? They tend to be more comfortable ad-libing and making ‘small talk’, it seems. I think we introverts wish to more carefully plan out our presentations, so we know exactly what to say.
Though the big problem with this approach is we can come down VERY stiff, and search as if i am reciting to the actual audience. Nothing turns down an audience quicker over a speaker that’s disengaged.
So here’s what I actually do. When I include created a veranda and am prepared to start rehearsing our presentation, I may carefully script out and about my session, so I understand exactly what I have to say, and when I have to say it. I’ll accomplish this about 5 times and so i have pretty a lot memorized the stuff, and the key points I have to make.
At this aspect, I throw the actual script away. In addition to I keep repeating the presentation without having it. I also break up the flow, if I include 5 points Image rehearsing in purchase, I’ll now do them inside a different order, just to drive myself to break clear of the script and TALK about the points I have to make, instead regarding reciting them. I’ll even be in the center of rehearsing a point and can cut myself off almost like someone asked the question, then from a minute or so I’ll make an effort to remember where My partner and i was and return back.
In the end you choose your presentation to become conversation with the actual audience. You would like to know the material. Because something will ALWAYS get lucky and throw you down base. If you already know the material, you may get back on trail, but if anyone don’t, then you’re inside trouble.
2 – Explain to stories. Everyone possesses case studies, and everyone possesses numbers that back the points they looking to make. Big cope. What you might like to do is weave people case studies and numbers right story. A story that is entertaining, but that in addition shows the people why and exactly how Company X used web 2 . 0, and gives these actionable takeaways for how you can take what Firm X learned, and apply it to their own situation.
When you arrive at the event:
3 – Chose the room where you will end up presenting, and obtain a feel for the actual layout. Walk round the room. Make sure you already know where everything is, where your laptop are going to be setup, where the many jacks are. Will you have a mic, will it be considered a clip-on or separate? Walk around the room. Sit in many of the chairs and make sure the audience could see you from everywhere in the room. Simply familiarizing yourself with all the room beforehand actually helps, especially to have an introverted soul; )
And make an effort to attend sessions in the SAME room previous to yours. This gives you time to see how other speakers do. Is there some problems with all the audio/video? Watch the fact that audience reacts for the session and the actual speaker. What does the speaker do that gets their consideration, what does she do that they don’t such as? Incorporate what anyone learn into your own session and delivery.
4 – Enroll in any pre-show meetups/tweetups. Most conferences should have a tweetup/meetup the night time before the event begins. This is a great chance for you to connect with audio speakers and attendees. Seek to connect with the actual attendees, especially things that will be participating in your session. In case you meet someone that’s thinking about attending, ask them what these are hoping to learn, and why these are interested in this issue. And this in addition gives you a means to incorporate that into your talk. Like “Now let’s discuss getting more comments on your own blog. I was actually conversing with Carla last nite in the lobby about the girl blog…: ” Suddenly Carla and all her pals at her dining room table will immediately perk up and pay consideration (if they weren’t already).
5 – Are able to your session at the very least 15 mins first, so you have time and energy to setup everything. This gives you the required time to get the actual laptop connected, your deck good to go, and make the last-second bathroom function. Also, make sure you have a glass of water readily available. You’re going to become talking for 30-90 minutes probably, and in the event you’re like me, you WILL become nervous, so lacking dry-mouth helps; )
Should you have any extra time prior to starting, what I like to do is walk round the room and create myself to many of the attendees and say thanks to them for arriving. Good way to connect with them, and increases the chances that they’ll pay attention during my session.
Oh and another extra tip, should you be SUPER nervous right in front of you are to be able to speak, eat a number of saltine crackers, it helps settle your stomach and relax the butterflies.
In your presentation:
6 – Give thanks to everyone for being there…and MEAN IT. When I chatted at a similar event a few years ago, I was a lttle bit worried about this issue, which was Think Like a Rockstar: How to create Fans and Group Around Your Social media marketing Efforts. I was worried that it may not be what the crowd (mostly property operators and apartment complex owners) was looking for, and was a lttle bit worried about how well it will be received.
Somewhat to be able to my shock, the actual session was virtually standing room solely, and we were still bringing in chairs to support everyone 5 mins in to the session. I was beyond grateful with the turnout, especially considering the caliber of the other audio speakers and sessions during those times slot, and made sure everyone knew exactly how appreciative I was.
7 – Allow audience know just what’s coming. Tell them exactly what you would be talking regarding, the exact order from the talk, and tell them how you can get involved. Most sessions possess a talk, then questions towards the end. I generally motivate the audience to be able to ask questions when they think of these, rather than waiting to help them to wait till the conclusion, when they might forget the question. But if you undertake this, you ought to be mindful if the actual question-asking is lowering into presentation moment. If you recognize that after the sixth of 23 photo slides that you’ve simply just spent 10 minutes answering questions, then you probably ought to tell the audience that you need to move on at that point.
8 – Maneuver around. At one from the first events My partner and i spoke at, the speakers were being provided a podium on stage, above the actual crowd, with lights shining down on them. No matter what these folks were talking about, having them chained to that podium having to stand in a spot behind the microphone made the actual session seem much less interesting. The audience seemed less interested at the same time, I think the actual unintentional message the format sent was ‘this is often a lecture’.
When the item came time pertaining to my talk, I told the actual organizer ‘You’ve got a chance to mic me in place, I can’t continue to be up there’. Therefore i was the 1st speaker that didn’t present coming from a podium on stage. I was down eye-level with all the audience, away on the lights, and interacting with the audience. The guy that was accountable for videotaping the sessions didn’t want it, but by merely being ‘ground-level’, the actual audience perked in place. They paid consideration, and that manufactured them more employed.
One thing I also like to do is get to the middle of the room. I’m apologies, but I simply just hate staying looking at a group to have an hour. Chris Brogan had an incredible point one time about the difference between an audience plus a community is what sort of chairs face. I have to spend some time in the center, interacting with people where these are.
9 – Realize you will screw up, and likely not a soul will notice. Bear in mind my first point about knowing your current material, and not really memorizing it? Here’s an example where I screwed which up. In preparing to moderate that 1st session at SXSW inside 2008, I made a whole script of what I might say to just about every panelist. I knew the precise questions to request, etc. I possibly made two scripts, one particular was detailed, plus the other was the ‘loose’ script to help keep me on trail. I kept the detailed that you my left plus the loose one to be able to my right.
As a way our session started off, I set the actual groundwork for cures would be dealing with, and the format from the session, closely pursuing my very thorough notes. All was going off and not using a hitch.
Then My partner and i moved to presenting the panelists, and returned to my thorough list, and cautiously started reading down who each panelist was. Then…. it transpired. I read the actual bio for among the panelists off our detailed list, and looked up for the crowd to say to them about the panelist. An easier time locating I looked rear down….. I checked the ‘loose’ screenplay, instead of the actual ‘detailed’ one. I was seeking to see the thorough bio for Mario i could read down, and instead My partner and i saw ‘Introduce Mario’.
At this stage, I was fully confused, and after what appeared like 20 years (in actuality it had been probably a number of seconds), I realized I had stopped talking, and mild (read: OHIO SHIT!!!! ) panic emerge. After another next or two regarding literally being scared to death, I finally found my place in the script, and made. The rest from the session went off and not using a hitch.
But first thing I did as soon as the session broken was apologize to be able to my fellow panelists with the disaster I manufactured during introductions with this seemingly 5 minute pregnant pause. They had no idea precisely what I was dealing with. So I assumed these folks were just being good, so I found a few people that attended the actual session and asked them concerning this, and they didn’t understand what I was dealing with either.
So in fact, I thought I had totally ruined the actual session 2 mins engrossed, over an ‘error’ that apparently not a soul noticed but me. That’s usually the way it goes while you are speaking, and I do believe introverts take possibly minor mistakes additional seriously than extroverted audio speakers. But the reality is, most people won’t possibly notice them.
10 – Engage the people which have been engaged with anyone. Another big advantage to knowing your current material is you can talk about the item, and while that you are, you can connect to the audience. I spending some time looking around the room as I am chatting with see who We are connecting with. The woman at the front left table which nods along as i make a point. The guy in the center right table that laughs as i tell a scam. If they are making time for me, I am making time for them. And these people see this, and that makes them keen on what I was saying.
11 – In close proximity the presentation by means of thanking the crowd for coming (and suggest it), then tell these how to contact you. This is and pimp yourself plus your site. Make sure the actual audience understands that you want the session to be the beginning of a connection in between you and these, not the finish. Encourage them to be able to email you when they have any issues, and I always share my Twitter name and tell the actual attendees to make sure you follow me, and I most certainly will follow them rear.
12 – Allow audience ask issues. Even if this would mean you cut your current presentation short, the actual audience deserves to be able to ask you issues. And this is often a little trick I acquired (actually it’s much more about being considerate of your audience), but if someone at the rear of the room asks a question, walk To the next person and response them. First, this keeps them from requiring you to shout at anyone, and two, this would mean you don’t need to shout your response back at these. Also, it makes other audience members around her prone to ask you a question at the same time.
Doing things this way and thanking the actual audience for coming might seem trite, but in this way you are displaying the audience you care about these, and are genuinely grateful them to came. This makes them far prone to pay attention for your requirements, and be thinking about both you AND what you have to say. Simple common courtesy goes further.
After the affair:
13 – Keep connected. One from the first things I most certainly will do is verify feedback on Twitting. I will thank people that leave feedback, and seriously consider what they are saying. Which points resonated with him or her. Did I want to do something that someone didn’t such as? Did a particular story really struck home for people?
But the financial well being is that We are living proof that introverts cannot only have profitable speaking careers, but you can learn to Appreciate it. Seriously if you needed told me in high school and college i would love conversing, I would have thought you were insane. But I really do, and I do believe you can at the same time. Fellow introverts, what tips for speaking do you have?
The science and strategy of using pauses in speech and speaking to add drama, impact and power to delivery.
Discover how these small segments of silence can translate to large admiration and appreciation of audiences.
“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
The Pause is a verbal tool like no other. Suspense. Drama. Intrigue. Power. All promoted by the Pause.
Throughout history, the world’s great orators have known of and applied the power of the pause:
President Ronald Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev…Tear Down this Wall!”
Clint Eastwood in the movie Sudden Impact: “Go ahead; make my day”
Oprah Winfrey: “My constant prayer for myself is to be used…in service…for the greater good.”
Or President Bill Clinton: “I did not have sex with that woman… Monica Lewinsky”
By definition, the pause is “a hesitation or a temporary suspension of an action.”
Here are four potent points for pausing:
1. A Pause can slow our speaking rate.
Many speakers try to say too much in too short a time. Consequently they speak quickly, trying to fit everything into the allotted time. If you find yourself speaking too quickly, pause at the end of a sentence and take a breath. If you feel in need of a breath, your listeners or audience probably do too. Pause Power.
Like punctuation marks in writing, pausing punctuates our messages. When we pause we’re telling the audience that what we’ve just said is important. The pause doesn’t have to be long. Even two seconds can be a powerful way of emphasizing your message.
And yet the Pause is so under-used in today’s rapid-fire immediate feedback society. Fearful that our audience will become bored or disengaged if there’s a lull in conversation, people speak with a continuous output of oratory. Relentless ramble. Paragraph after paragraph. But put a pause in place…and there’s peace.
2. A Pause gives us time to think.
Sometimes the inevitable happens – you forget what you were going to say next. Rather than panic, pause and collect your thoughts. When you’re not sure what you were going to say next, pausing enables you to quickly retrace your previous words in your mind and figure out what the next logical step will be.
Don’t worry that your audience may think you’ve forgotten what you were going to say. If your speech has been going well so far, they’ll be happy to wait while you collect your thoughts. The chances are they may not even notice. Once you’ve started speaking again, the original statement often returns to your mind.
3. A pause is more powerful than um and ah
Often we listen to a speaker with an interesting message, only to be distracted by constant ums and ahs. Sometimes it’s a sign of nervousness, sometimes it’s a sign of laziness. Often the speaker isn’t aware they’re doing it. Fillers such as um and ah can become a bad habit. As Toastmasters, we are groomed to listen for these fillers…and eliminate them in dialogue. But they’re everywhere! Celebrities, politicians, friends and family…kinda, you know, uhh..add these ah filers when they don’t know what to say. Silence is a stronger filler than those two silly words. So we’re at a loss for words, stay silent.
4: A Pause can add Depth, Drama and Dimension to a talk.
Say it slowly…and with a pause….and the audience will listen with greater intrigue and interest. Let the message sink-in. Engage eye-contact during the delay. These are the subtle effects of a pause. A speech that’s short on time, can likely be amplified and extended by a well-placed powerful pause.
Notice that term “Well-placed.” I recently delivered a speech about Achieving Greatness through Quotations.” The talk was generally well-received …except for one critical listener who noted that my pauses were “unsubstantial.” “Kevin,” he said, “you were simply pausing to gather your thoughts.” Pauses…he went on to say, should be perfectly placed…and terrifically timed.
Indeed, as communicators, we should pay extra attention to the placement, impact, and implications of the Pause. Not only as we write our words and assemble our oratories…but in everyday conversation and interaction. Those small segments of silence can translate to large admiration and appreciation of audiences…who- whether they’re aware of it or not- might hear an otherwise ordinary talk as extraordinary. And that is true Pause Power.
Kevin Lerner is a presentation consultant and expert on presentation design and delivery. His firm, The Presentation Team, has helped hundreds of companies and individuals to create world-class presentations.
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