Eliminating ums and ahs

A big challenge for many speakers is reducing and ideally eliminating ums and ahs or other comfort words and phrases when they speak formally. The use of these can be a sign of nervousness and a need to bridge awkward moments or just a bad habit.

Either way they can be controlled. Comfort words and phrases are very common when we speak informally with colleagues, friends and family. In these situations they are not a big deal. In more formal speaking and presentation situations they can be very distracting and make us look ill prepared and not as professional as we could be.

The secret is to focus on the craft of speaking utilizing the various tools that are available to us, eye contact, facial expression, vocal variety, etc. Put your energy into something constructive.

Take time to rehearse and think about your delivery. The more prepared you are the more deliberate you will become when you speak or present.

Use video to record your presentation. Then review it to reveal if you are using comfort words and phrases. Just listen to the audio to assess your performance. You will still need to look at the video to help refine your overall delivery.

Good preparation will go a long way towards reducing and eliminating your comfort phrases.
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