Dear <<First Name>>,
In 2015, I'll be offering an ongoing series of online training via 30 minute webinars on how to be a relaxed public speaker. We'll be starting with "Meditation For People Who Can't Meditate." More info to come in Feb e-news. Best wishes for the Christmas break, Geraldine
" Do You Umm Or Do You Err? "
Say More & Umm Less When You Speak
"Umms and errs" are conversational fillers. A filler is a word or sound which signals in a conversation or speech, that the speaker has paused but has not yet finished. What is your tipping point when "umms and errs" become more fill than conversation?
Recently I was asked to give another radio interview, this time about "why people use conversational fillers and why they are so annoying." The main offenders were "umm and err" with "ahh" being attributed to the over 70 year olds. Middle aged people were chastised for the too frequent use of "actually", "seriously", "okay", "right" and "well." And younger generations were blasted by radio phone-ins for the inane repetition of "awesome", "like" and "it's all good".
Personally, I'm fond of using "So..." when thinking on my feet. What do you use?
So Much To Say... So Little Time
These words of course aren't just fillers, some are mindless cliches and some are used by listeners as conversational "reassurers", to signify, "yes I'm still here, still listening to you." They fill in a space that the listener assumes needs to be filled. But does it?
Some cultures favour speaking only when necessary and assume a speaker doesn't need to be emotionally propped up with reassurance. I like that approach. What ever happened to silence, space and trust?
Annoying, Distracting & Detracting
So, (there I go again) both speakers and listeners use conversational fillers to signify an unspoken intention. The over or under use of such fillers can be annoying, distracting and detracting.
Some international public speaking organisations, nominate a club member to be the official "Umm and Ahh Counter" and the list of shame is duly read out at the end of the evening!
Honestly, it is ridiculous how many people timidly knock at my door, shoulders drooping, eyes downcast, admitting in hushed tones they are "terrible" at public speaking because they say "umm" too often.
Thing is, once a belief is alive and kicking in the general population it has a lifespan and an influence. If you believe the use of "umms" signifies a poor communicator, then you will label or be labelled as a poor communicator.
How Many "Umms" Are Too Much?
Ok, an "umm" or "err" in every one to two sentences is too much in my opinion. Western audiences assume the speaker is either unconfident, doesn't know what they are talking about, or may not be telling the truth.
We dismiss the speaker as a poor communicator and switch off. The withdrawal of listener trust, adds to the speaker's drop in confidence, thus perpetuating the cycle of "umming and erring".
Interestingly, what do we assume if the speaker just pauses, instead of filling the space with an "umm"?
It's Easy To Change When You Know How
Keep reading dear ones, as I explain the 3 step technique I use to coach my clients out of this habit:
How To Reduce "Ums & Errs"And Other Fillers
A client I recently worked with told me her boss found her unconscious habit of saying "yep yep" meant she wasn't paying attention and instead trying to hurry him along. My client didn't realise she was saying it. She's now using a belly breath to pause and just listen or a pause to gather her words while she thinks before speaking.
- Gather Evidence - first go on a research mission and note what you say and when. Ask for feedback.
- Slow Down To Think Before You Speak - Give yourself time to process your thoughts before you say them. No one chooses to say "umm" deliberately.
- Choose A Positive Substitution - Decide on a new type of filler, like dieters recommend drinking a glass of water instead of a eating a chocolate bar. I find the most successful substitution is to pause instead of saying "umm". Simply stop, take a small belly breath, and continue on. Another method to use occasionally is to say "mmm" and look thoughtful, rather than blank. If you use other devices, please share them!
Now It's Your Turn
This is the action I invite you to take next. Follow my 3 step technique and email me, or add to the blog or Facebook conversation with:
- confess the conversational filler you mostly use (as a speaker or listener);
- the positive substitution you intend to use;
- your results if you have sprung into action immediately.
Benefits Of Pausing Versus Conversational Fill
- clearer and cleaner communication;
- you and your message will be heard and understood;
- you will feel more calm, confident and in control.
Conversational fillers and reassurers like the occasional "umm" or "I see", play an important role in everyday western communication. The problem is unconscious overuse in situations when we aren't present, prepared or listening. "Like, it's not all good, man."
In 2015, aim to use less fill and give more of you. Say more, umm less!
© 2014, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach @ Goddess Of Public Speaking.
Time To Take Your Cool, Calm & Connected Pulse!
Using the Calm Barometer below, rate how cool, calm and connected you feel right now between 1 and 10...
When you speak, lead and live with natural ease and authenticity, you will be closer to 10.
When you feel scattered, distracted or unconfident, you will be closer to 1.
What To Do: If you are "7" or above today, notice what's working well and keep doing it. Accept that daily variations in confidence and clarity are normal. If you are below "7" today, listen to our free recording of the 5 minute Inner Calm exercise. You can also download our 2 free A4 Posters of Inner Calm and the Calm Barometer for your wall.
© 2011, Geraldine Barkworth. Reprintable when full credit is given & whole newsletter is reproduced. Contact Geraldine Barkworth on +61 (2) 6685 1917 or email@example.com
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