Count your Uhs and Ums.
Whether you are speaking to an audience of three or three thousand, you want to be taken seriously. In an interview, an interrogation, questioning a witness in a deposition, addressing a jury or even on a first date, you want to make the right impression. You want to be believed and you want to hold the attention of your audience. You can’t rely on the content of your message alone. You also have to rely on your delivery skills.
I’ve become very aware of how a speaker’s message is distorted by interruptions such as “uh” and “um”, because my simultaneous delivery of the words spoken is also interrupted. If the statement is evidence, I see first hand how it is perceived and accepted or not by the listener.
If you are filling their ears with “uh” and “um” and “eh”, most people will quickly tune you out.
This the message you are sending:
- You don’t know what you are talking about.
- You are making it up as you go along.
- You are not familiar with the subject enough to speak continuously.
- You have to throw in words to your sentence as fillers.
- But worst of all, you are telling the listener that you don’t care about what you are talking about.
(So why should anyone else care?)
The solution is easy. By yourself, practice making a point that you would in a short casual conversation. As soon as you catch yourself saying “Uh” or ‘um”, start over.
Replace every “uh” or “um” with a silent pause. Keep repeating the same point until you do not interrupt yourself with either a pause or an “uh “or “um”. This will give your brain the practice of speaking without theses interruptions.
Now, move up to a prepared statement and follow the same routine, without reading it word for word. Add convincing body language and you are ready to fly, nonstop.