Your Ahs Ums & You Knows

How do you silence your “Ah” counter?

20190425_163601.jpgWhen you are on the speaking platform, have you ever found your mind twisting and turning, groping for words or at a loss for your next thought? Do you then turn to the most commonly used filler words like “Ahs,” “Ums” and the dreaded “You know”? How do you silence your “Ah” counter?

How do you turn those negatives into positive sounds, even when your choice is silence? Studies have shown subject matter, and breadth of your vocabulary determines the use of filler words more than habit or anxiety. Some may ask why filler words or phrases are needed at all. What motivates a speaker to fill every moment of silence with sound? For some speakers, it is the fear of dead space when speaking while for others, it may be because of the careless speaking habits perfected over time. Great speakers rarely use unnecessary words, interjections or distracting sounds. Great speakers do not wing it. Great speakers prepare their presentations. Listen carefully to their delivery, and you will find it is not that they avoid pauses, interjections or fillers altogether; instead, they replace their “Ums” “Ahs” and “You know” with filler words that sound natural, intentional and conversational.

The cure for filler words without a doubt is preparation. Speakers can reduce nervousness by pre-determining the way they would like to express their ideas through preparation and practice. By no means, should you avoid silence, however, when pauses are overused, it can be an indication the speaker is unprepared. That style of delivery is distracting to listeners. One proven method of avoiding distracting sounds is by replacing your “Ums” “Ahs” and dead silence with stronger filler words like “Now,” “However” or “You See.” with enthusiasm and confidence. With a little practice, you will soon find your filler words sounding much more powerful and intentional, just like the great speakers.

We all experience senior moments when we are on the platform. A useful ploy to avoid pregnant pauses when you have lost your trend of thought is to repeat your very last sentence with a change of tone and emphasis, as you collect your thoughts. Interjections also come in handy in those moments. An interjection is a word or collection of words that express feelings. For example, “Gee,” “Wow!”- “Oh my!”. I have learned from experience to embrace the use of words like – Yikes, Ouch, and Oops in speeches and to keep them handy for unplanned moments. One notable characteristic of interjections is they have little or no logical connection with the words or sentences that follow. You can safely use them to distract your audience as you collect your thoughts. Turn your negatives into positives. Start using your filler words and interjections with confidence. Make them a part of your conversation with your audience. Practice them until they become permanent, and they will add style and color to your speaking.