Here is a simple truth: fluent speakers are easy to listen to and understand! One of the easiest ways to improve your speaking ability is to become more fluent. How often have you heard a speaker “um,” “er” and “ah,” or worse, offer a flippant “you know” as a form of punctuation? It is painful to listen to and gives the impression the speaker is unprepared and unsure of himself.
If you fall into this trap of using “um,” “er” and “ah” as your form of punctuation when you speak be warned: it is a certain way to inform your listeners you are an unpolished performer! And the net result is your audience will switch off and no matter how hard you try you won’t be able to get them back on board despite the importance of your message or how cleverly written your speech.
Does this happen to you? If so, what can you do to improve the situation? Firstly, make a recording of yourself and take note – how often to you punctuate with an “um,” “er” or “ah?” Next, rehearse your next speech and when you hear yourself utter an “um,” “er” or “ah” stop in your tracks, pause and breathe naturally before starting again. Each time you pause mentally commit to eliminating your tendency to punctuate with “um,” “er” and “ah.”
This little exercise can be difficult to do at first but the impact it will have on your performance will be nothing short of miraculous. Soon you will sound more fluent and less confused. And best of all you’ll be easy to listen to and understand! If you have used this exercise to good effect why not share your experience with the readers of The Speakers College?
The Speakers College