There are literally thousands of books on public speaking available on Amazon and most of them have some page or paragraph telling people what to do if they say ‘um’ or ‘ah’. These verbal tics that come out sort of clutter up what we are saying.
It is not bad advice but frankly, none of it is particularly helpful advice because it always says things like: instead of saying ‘um’ just pause! Well, no kidding! But if it were that easy, I would not be reading a book about public speaking. People give all sorts of advice and tell you to meditate, drink green tea, count to three, and other things that I find, for most people, simply aren’t practical; it just doesn’t work.
What I do when someone comes to me for public speaking training or media training is that I will record them. If we see that they have lots of oohs and aahs coming out, I’ll ask them if they want to get rid of the umms and ahhs. I then ask them to pull out their cell phone and show me their watch. Then, I just take a sticker with the word ‘umm’ and the international red ‘no’ sign you know and I put it on their cell phone. If they have a watch, I put it on their watch or maybe their laptop screen.
After a week, their brain has been reconditioned not to say umm or ahh. It is highly effective and it really works so any advice you get, you have got to look at it through the prism of not just if it sounds good or makes sense, but also if it can actually be applied. With the tip I just gave you, you can do it at home. Just type up the word ahh or umm, print it, cut it out, get a red magic marker, put the red circle around it with the slash mark, and then tape it on your watch or your cell phone.