Many a brilliant declaration, speech or presentation is ruined by the presence of unattractive filler sounds such as uh … um … ah … you know … like … sort of … and the like. Crutch phrases. If you know what I mean. Verbalfilla.
Can they do you harm? In the context of doing business, yes they can, because they distract listeners from your message and lose you some of their esteem.
In a social context, they also lower your ranking, and reveal your lack of self confidence.
Verbalfilla is irritating, it is ugly and it interferes with the process of communication. It ranks alongside such undesirable body language as scrotum scratching and nose nibbling.
It indicates that you are unprepared or unsure of what to say next, and therefore making it up as you go along. That, of course, puts a serious dent in your credibility.
Worst of all, it’s catching.
Fortunately, it is not terminal and can be cured. Here’s my 5-point Plan to rid your mouth of verbalfilla.
1. Listen. Take a recording of yourself in a telephone conversation or making a speech, and listen for the verbalfilla sounds you make.
2. Watch. Pay attention to the way you speak, an even enlist your spouse or a close friend to signal when you use a verbalfilla, and stop speaking. Then re-state what you were saying, perhaps starting with “I think what I’m trying to say is …”
3. Go faster. Practise speaking faster. Often, speaking with urgency and purpose will eliminate the dreaded verbalfillas.
4. Speak more. Get better at expressing your point of view and developing your arguments in conversation.
5. Practise impromptu speaking, following a simple structure such as Past, Present, Future or Problem, Cause, Solution.
For more help with this or any other problem in public speaking, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.