Let me give you the best way using which you can eliminate any verbal tics you have. While it is the most effective technique, it also a very unpopular one which is why you are not going to like it. I will tell you what it is and you can be the judge of whether or not it is one that you want to use.
Before you set off to give any speech or talk to an audience, a single person, or to a prospective client, I want you to practice what you are saying while holding up your cell phone and recording yourself doing it. If you feel too uncomfortable with taking a video of yourself, you can use audio, but preferably, video should be used. Then, you need to watch it and listen to it.
First of all, you need to focus on if you are interesting. Would you want to listen to what you have to say about the particular topic that you are focusing on in that particular speech? First of all, you need to solve this primary problem. After that only should you move on to counting your verbal tics. Keep doing this practice until you become satisfied with how you are coming across and you have reduced down on the number of your ums and ahs.
Remember: no one will remember the few ahs or ums that are scattered through your talk. They will remember if you have thirty in the first sentence, so if it is that bad, you will need to reduce it down to a smaller number. But a few here and there do not matter.
The key is to not doing it once and ripping yourself apart over it for the next ten hours. You need to do it once and immediately redo it until you become comfortable with your levels of interesting content, fluidity, and verbal tics.
Handshakes, Greetings, and Hellos with Poise
How do you greet people when you meet them? For many people in the workplace, this is a rather touchy issue because it seems complicated. You need to look at a lot of things. You need to watch what other people in the industry are doing and you also need to see how things are evolving.
There are some professions in the United States in which, a few decades ago, everyone greeted each other with a kiss on the cheek. Now, however, they do not do that. Am I telling you to never kiss anyone on the cheek again? No! Every industry is different and you have to adjust according to yours. If everyone in your industry does that and you suddenly stop doing it, it can be seen as standoffish and generally very bad body language. That is not going to help you.
Generally speaking, if you go to a new setting, it is a good idea to just seem friendly with a smile on your face and then follow the lead of what the people there are doing. If you are going to another country, you can simply Google the social customs of that particular country and adjust accordingly. I work mostly in the United States and here it is common to greet each other with a simple handshake. Although there are some fields where you have to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek so I do that when required.
I also work in European countries and it varies country to country- the norm at some places in to kiss the cheek once, some places have it as two kisses on each cheek, and some even go up to three! But the bottom line is that you want to look at what people are doing and follow them. You don’t want to offend anyone by pulling back abruptly when it is a norm for them to kiss the cheek and neither do you want to go ahead and give three kisses to a person who is expecting a simple handshake from you.
So my recommendation is for you to look around, and ask people in your workplace who are more experienced than you and have gone through these issues before, especially if you are going to a foreign country.
You also need to be keenly wary of the religious differences. There are some religions in the world in which opposite genders do not shake hands with each other, let alone kiss. Violating these rules may have severe repercussions so you need to respect and obey them. The more you can find out about the background and culture of your customers and clients and even of your colleagues who are sharing the workplace with you, the better it is.
When in doubt, try to ask people before the meeting. If you don’t get a chance to do that, simply put on a light smile and ask what the custom in that place is. Most people are not offended by this and will help you out eagerly. When shaking hands, try not to be too firm so as to break the hand of the person, neither should you be so limp that they feel like they are holding a fish- it should be just right.
You Can Pass the Ultimate Test
While this may seem like an advanced tip, I believe that you are a smart crowd and will get what I am trying to say. Here is the concept of the ultimate test: you are set to give a presentation to your colleagues or a prospective client on Thursday. Go sit with a friend at lunch on Tuesday afternoon and give your presentation in front of them. When you are done, do not ask them what they think- they are your friends so they are going to praise you to no end and that is worthless advice for you.
Ask them what they remember instead. If they remember your key messages, you are doing something right, keep it up! If they remember your images, that means your images and slides work, keep them! But if they cannot tell you exactly what your messages were or why you were speaking to them, it means that it is not too late to go back to the drawing board to make sure you deliver a good presentation.
This is a much better way of improving your slides and presentation instead of sitting on your computer till midnight, writing and rewriting bullet points until you think you have got it right.