I find it humorous to listen to radio talk shows or TV sports interviews with athletes after the game. I shouldn’t say humorous; it is really sad the way the English language is being butchered by those who call it their native tongue!
“Uh-um, you know, it’s like, I mean, he took the ball and you know, like then he uh-um threw it and yeah, man, ah, um and so.”
Was that a sentence? Did the player actually say something intelligible?
Filler words, redundancy and run-on sentences hinder the impact of our speaking. When we stand behind the lectern, we have the attention of our audience. People want to hear what we have to say, and they deserve to hear something worthwhile.
Here are a few tips for better speaking:
1. Avoid run-on sentences. Do not connect your sentences with “and” or “so” or “but”. Instead choose your words carefully and use shorter sentences.
2. Avoid filler words – Instead of inserting words that do not help convey your message, simply pause for a moment, take a breath and collect your thoughts. You still have the floor and no one is going to jump in and interrupt you.
3. Use pauses for effect. You are the speaker and your audience is listening intently. Many people are uncomfortable with silence. A well-placed second of silence will actually cause the audience to look up to see what is happening on stage! You may regain a “snoozer” who was distracted. Music has rests, which create silence. The rests in music is as important and effective as the notes. Silence is a valuable tool when giving a speech.
4. Practice good speech habits. There are 3 P’s necessary for making a good speech: practice, practice, practice. Every time you answer the phone, speak to a friend, or utter a prayer, you have the privilege of being heard, and you have the opportunity to improve your skills and practice speaking well. Practice does not make perfect; it makes experience and experience gives us confidence.
Make your point by using as few words as possible. Do away with unnecessary filler words. Use silence to punctuate your speaking and you will notice a tremendous improvement not only in the way you speak, but in the way people listen.
So speak well and don’t “filler” up!