Oooo, Ahhh, Ummm, kind of, like, you know?

We all have them, these little meaningless filler words, also known as verbal graffiti.

An occasional one here and there is not a problem (after all, we are humans not machines…) but they become a problem when:

  • The audience starts counting them
  • They give the impression you are uncertain
  • They undermine your credibility 

So, what can we do?

Here is a simple exercise I call the JAW DROP.

Here’s how you do it.

  1. Have your speech prepared and find somewhere private to practice. 
  2. Start speaking while looking straight ahead try and touch your chin to your chest
  3. This makes you speak in an exaggerated way, and you sound a little bit like Forrest Gump “Life is like a box of chocolates…”

I know – you’re feeling silly, but bear with me…

Speaking in this exaggerated fashion works by slowing down your pace, encouraging you to take deep breaths and it allows your brain to catch up with your mouth. 

It works. After just one session I had a client reduce her umms and ahhs from 60 in a seven-minute speech to under 10.

Your next step is to write JAW DROP in red on your notes to remind you to slow down and speak consciously. Give it a try and let me know how you go!

Warning: Don’t practice this technique at home in front of the cat. They will give you ‘the look’… cats are very judgemental.

Ahhh, ummm, you know… Is verbal graffiti diffusing your message?

Sharon Ferrier
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All Good Presentations Start With a Confident Speaker

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