(Closed) How can I stop saying “ummm” when I speak in public?

posted 8 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 3
3871 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

practice, practice, practice.

I don’t mind doing it everyday but I don’t want people to hear me say, umm, when I’m doing a presentation.  I also stutter too when I’m nervous, so I have to say my speech about 100 times in front of the mirror until I don’t stutter or say umm.

Post # 4
2201 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

Being aware of it is the first thing. Once you are aware of how often you use “non-words” (like “um”) and “like” you can work better to correct the habit. When I was first breaking myself of the “um”, I would just try to pause before saying anything else. Because um really is just a filler. Take a breath instead. And try to slow down your speaking pace (easier said than done, right?!?), that way you won’t have those gaps where your brain is trying to catch up to your mouth.

I’ve also known people that pinch themselves whenever they say non-words, to make it that more apparent to their brain what’s going on (and that it hurts when it happens).

Post # 5
11325 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2011

1) prepare

2) do your best to stay calm

3) realize that silence is acceptable. If you need a few seconds, take them. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) fill up every single second with sound.

Post # 6
2214 posts
Buzzing bee

When you recognize you do it, stop and repeat what you want to say without the filler words.  That’s how I (basically) stopped using “ums” and “like.”  It takes time, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually.

If you’re making a speech, I would do a practice round and videotape yourself and see where in your speech you’re prone to use fillers, so you can be aware of it.

Post # 7
1288 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2010 - Indiana Memorial Union

Just trying pausing when you feel the need to say um.

There are some sneaky people who use different filler words but manage to not sound like airheads. I had a lot of different professors who would say “ah.” It sounds like they’re reflecting on what they’re saying, not blanking 🙂 But really, just slow down and pause!

Post # 8
18643 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

I agree that trying to stay calm and knowing that you do it really helps.  It is okay to pause for a few sections before saying something, people will know that you are thinking which is completely normal!

Post # 9
88 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

I got a lot of advice about this in law school. (I don’t say um, but I talk too fast when I’m nervous).

If you’re really serious, you need to invest some time in training yourself for public speaking. Many good public speakers have spent a lot of time working on this, so you shouldn’t assume that they were born with those skills. Here is the advice I got:

-record yourself talking, and then watch it (which is painful)

-write down what you are planning to say, and practice it several times for speeches

-write down your talking points for your business calls. Practices a few sentences that you know you’ll be saying.

-practice in front of a mirror to work on the non-speech elements of showing that you mean business – eye contact, posture, poise etc. Also think about tone of voice.

You can do it!

Post # 10
831 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Pause for a few seconds to gather your thoughts. It takes mucho practice, but momentary pause is okay!

Post # 11
14186 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

During an interview once, instead of saying “Umm” which i like to say, too, I once said, “Hm, well, let me think about that” and I took the phone away from my ear and thought…..there was silence between the lines…..THEN i responded. Sometimes silence is better. Anyways, the interviewer later told me it made me sound very mature on the phone and capable of handling awkward social situations in professional settings. Not sure if that’s the case but I’m passing it along! Silence is better than “ummm…erm…..”

Post # 13
1667 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

I always stand when I am talking to people on the phone (especially when I was job interviewing) The reason? Standing helps you to breather deeper, which helps you to project and enunciate (spelling?) Also smile when you are speaking, it changes the tone of your voice.

Post # 14
4001 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I used to be like that.  But when I began doing the work that I do now, I was being put in positions where I was either always speaking to someone of some kind of importance, or I was speaking in public forums.  I agree with the other bee’s.  PRACTICE.  If there’s a situation where you have an idea of what you will have to say, like a phone call.  Seriously take a minute to collect yourself before you call.  Decide what you’d like to say and try it out.  I still blank sometimes when I’m speaking in front of people.  It feels like you space for a long time but really its not as bad, its probably for a second.  The other person/people don’t realize.  So with speaking in front of audiences often, I’ve gotten used to not filling to space with um.  It sounds less professional than just saying nothing.  I swear it will get easier!

Post # 15
2393 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

I don’t have any advice for now, but when I was in high school, I took a public speaking class.  Each time you said, “uhm” or any other pause filler, the teacher would take off a point from your grade.  Broke the bad habits very quick!

Post # 16
1638 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

I did this with the word ‘like’ Fiance picked up on it when we first started dating. He helped by pointing it EVERYTIME I said it. Which was annoying but at the same time I finally stopped saying it because I noticed I was using it for NO reason. Maybe have your Fiance tell you everytime you do it? In interviews I always take a second to answer the question. I get nervous and if I blurt out the first thing that comes to my mind it usually isn’t what I wanted to say but I noticed that if I think for a second then have a good reply that pause doesn’t really matter to anyone but me b/c the employer just hears your good reply, not the 10-15 seconds it took you to think it up. There is nothing wrong with taking your time to come up with a good answer IMO.

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