As a public speaker sometimes it is the little things that can catch you out. Often something you are not even aware that you are doing. Like the vocal pause for thought the unfortunate ‘uhm’ that slips out when you are thinking about your next words.

‘Uhms’, along with their cousins ‘ers’, can slip into even the most experienced speaker’s vocabulary. You need to be ever vigilant.

So what causes these ‘uhms’ to drop in. As I mentioned, most often they are vocal pauses for thought which happen when you are striving to remember that next word – the jaw drops and air passes over the vocal chords making a sound. This happening once or twice won’t have too much impact on your credibility as a speaker. However, when it occurs over and over it can give the impression that you are either not sure what is coming next or that you are trying to hide something. Just watch some politicians next time there is an election and see which one you can pick as the ‘Uhm ‘champion.

Not sure if you have the ‘uhm’ virus? Have a friend listen when next you are speaking or presenting and count the number of ‘uhms’or ‘ers’. Oh dear, you say, you have got the virus?

Well there is a cure. First become aware, secondly close the mouth, think, breathe through your nose, then open and say that important word. You can’t’ uhm’ if the mouth is closed and breathing through the nose will assist with this. You can’t speak on an in breath. We speak on an out breath. Try it and see. So if you have the mouth closed and breathe in you eliminate the possibility of an ‘uhm’ creeping in.

It is the little things that often count – so be vigilant and watch out for the ‘Uhm’ Virus.

Trish @ Trischel

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