HOW to REDUCE your ‘ums’ & ‘ahs’ WHEN you SPEAK

 In Delivery, Feedback, Listening, Meetings, News, The Winning Voice

If you’re like everyone I know – you, on occasion, insert an ‘um’ or an ‘ah’ filler syllable into your speaking.

If the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ are infrequent, they usually won’t be noticed by your listener and won’t distract the listener from your messages.

However, when your ‘ums’,ahs’ become noticeable and/or when people start counting the number of ‘ums’, ‘ahs’ as you are speaking – my suggestion is that you aim to reduce them in your speech.

Here’s a method to reduce ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ that is sourced from my therapy techniques in my former career as a speech pathologist.

#1 Enlist a trusted friend to help you.

#2 While you speak on a simple topic for 30-60 seconds (eg. What you’ll do in the upcoming weekend, or what you did in the past weekend) tell the friend to listen intently to your speech and say ”Wait’ immediately when they hear you utter an ‘um’ or an ‘ah’.

#3 Stop speaking at your friend’s ‘Wait’ command – and then continue speaking, while your friend continues to give you the immediate ‘Wait’ command for ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’.

#4 Continue speaking to the 60 second mark. You might be surprised the number of times your friends says ‘Wait’.

#5 By yourself, for the next seven days (in safe situation to start with) for the first 15 seconds of every speaking episode, put particular emphasis on being ‘um’, ‘ah’ free, for those 15 seconds. Then forget about monitoring your ‘ums, ahs‘ as it will be too difficult to maintain your speech fluency if you do so.

If you keep at focusing on being  of ‘um’, ‘ah’ free for the first 15 seconds – over time, you’ll reduce these fillers from your speaking.

A way to SPEED UP the reduction of your ‘um, ah’ fillers is this:

At work, ask a trusted colleague – who regularly attends meetings that you do – to tally the number of ‘ums’, ‘ahs’ you speak in a respective meeting. And then privately inform you of that number after the meeting.

As an incentive for the colleague to do this, tell them you’ll give them a small sweet (Chupa Chups Lollipops work well) for every ‘um,’ ah’ they tally – or for every 10 ‘ums, ‘ahs’ they tally (for heavy duty users of the fillers).

Own the Conversation

The above steps may sound laborious.

However, they are best way I know of, to reduce filler words.

And the pay-off is this. You’ll upgrade the impact of your spoken communication.

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