Hit the Pin, Not the Sand Trap
If you really want to reduce the ums, aahs, errs, and other verbal tics? Then you are going to have to do something that seems contradictory.
I need you to stop focusing on not saying ums and aahs. I need you to focus instead on delivering ideas of interest to the person or people that you are speaking to. Think of it this way: I am not a golfer but my golfing friends tell me that if you go out on a golf course to play golf and only focus on not hitting the ball in the sand trap, you are much more likely to hit the ball in the sand trap than if you were to simply focus on the pin and hitting the ball into the hole.
It works exactly the same way when it comes to public speaking, giving public presentations, talking to people in uncomfortable situations, or even when leaving voicemails. You need to focus on helping the person you are speaking to. Focus on giving them ideas that are actually useful and interesting. Do not make avoiding ums and ahs the primary center of your speech or presentation.
Only Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
You have figured out what you want your audience to do, you have narrowed your messages down to five points, you have come up with an interesting story or example for each message, and, if you have a PowerPoint, you can come up with an image for each message as well to make it more visual. So now you are ready to give you speech tomorrow to your coworkers, right? Well, not yet.
If you are typing up a very important report or document for a boss, will you send it out right after typing it without even editing or looking over what you have written? Probably not. You want to take a look at it and maybe run a spell check and give it a once over to ensure that everything looks good. It is no different when it comes to public speaking. You need to see that your speech is actually good.
But here is the problem. When I say your speech, you may be thinking in terms of your PowerPoint slides or your presentation deck. But that is not your speech. Your speech is what you are going to speak.
If we were living in an era three decades ago, then I might have suggested for you to practice in front of a mirror which, by the way, is something you should not waste your time doing. What you can do is that you can pull out your mobile phone, webcam, or any other device with a camera, practice the speech and record yourself speaking in front of it, look at it after, and figure out what you like and don’t like. Do it again and again doing more of what you like and less of what you did not like.
Now you may not enjoy looking at yourself speaking or listening to yourself speak, but this is one of the major portions of becoming a good speaker and moving on from the beginner platform. The lesson from this activity is not to realise that you do not enjoy watching yourself on camera but that you can convey your message much more clearly through your speech. You may not end up being perfect but you can try to be the best that you possibly can.
These Simple Secrets Will Make You Look Like a Public Speaking Veteran
Here are four quick tips that will make public speaking dramatically easy for you in the future. Big tip number 1: cheat! That is right, you read it correctly. I am not asking you to do something illegally, I am simply asking you to use a cheat sheet. I use it all the time and most of the best speakers in the world do as well. The reality is that as a beginner, you’ll definitely feel nervous when you go up to speak and it will be hard to remember what to say. So instead of putting pressure on your brain, use an outline of what you need to say. The key is to only use one sheet of paper with big bold letters making concise words or brief sentences. No one will ever know you are using it even if it is right in front of you.
Another quick tip that makes you seem like a magician: if you are giving a Powerpoint presentation, simply hit the key that says B and it will black out your boring slide. You can bring it back by hitting the spacebar. This makes you seem like you are the one in control of the presentation.
The next big tip is for you if you want to get rid of the ums and ahs in your speaking. Print the words um, ah, or er out, cut them up, draw a red circle with a line crossing through it around it, and paste it on your watch or any computer screen that you frequently use. After a week of looking at this sign, your brain will be reconditioned and you will not be saying these words anymore. You will instead pause in that time and move forward.
Another very easy tip and a very big one is that practice in front of your phone, record yourself, and then look at it. This is what the pros do these days and something no one did a few years ago because the technology was not as advanced.