Vocal fillers, those words (sounds) that you use to take a pause in a sentence, usually to think about what you are going to say next, can make the most confident speaker sound like a high school student. If you want to distract and annoy your audience, hurt your reputation and destroy your speech or presentation then use as many vocal fillers as you can. Whether in everyday communicating or in a presentation, fillers lessen the impact of what you are saying and will never work to your advantage.
They differ with age and ethnicity but the most common include:
– “ya know”/ “know what I’m saying”
The best way to achieve removing fillers from your public speaking is through awareness, structure and pace.
- Awareness: You may not be as bad as this valley girl, but most of us don’t think we have a problem using vocal fillers. Once you take the time to record yourself speaking and take stock of the words you use to fill in a space you’ll be surprised.
- Structure: As you begin to craft your speech, assemble your presentation or quickly prepare for an off-the-cuff talk take a moment to determine your intent. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish with what you are saying. After you’ve visualized your goal use this to give yourself structure. Take time to map out the body of your presentation giving special attention to transition points. Write a list of key words that will stimulate you and your audience, making sure they are words that you understand and use regularly.
- Pace: S L O W D O W N. It sounds simple but when combating nervousness and anxiety most people endure when speaking publically it’s quite challenging. With a slower pace you’ll stay conscious of the words leaving your mouth, paying extra attention during the times when you fumble. If you lose your place or are caught off guard take a breath and come back to your intent. Although it may seem like five minutes has passed, for you to take a deep eight second breath will be much more effective than “you know what I mean, right?”. A slower pace will make everything you say more important while offering you time to vary your vocal tone and pitch.
Let your voice be heard loud and clear, without um, uh, anything to, like, obscure it. For more ideas on perfecting your public speaking skills and support to keep you motivated sign up for our newsletter at ReleaseYourVoice.com. If you are in the Vancouver area stay tuned for Release Your Voice speaking events and tune-up sessions.