Umm…Like… You Know… STOP THE INSANITY!

There is nothing more frustrating than listening to voicemails and all one hears on the other end is…

Hi, my name is UM Sally and I was calling for the UM opportunity to work for your company and LIKE I have experience in YOU KNOW administration and UM I would ….”

This rings true whether you are applying for a job or a business owner trying to make a sale.

With today’s technology craze of social media and texting people have stopped picking up the phone to make a first impression and based on the amount of prescreening that I have been doing lately on phone interviews I can certainly tell.

Statistics from the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that, these days, many people with cell phones prefer texting over a phone call. It’s not always young people, though the data indicate that the younger you are, the more likely you are to prefer texting.

And that’s creating a communication divide, of sorts – the talkers vs. the texters. 

With today’s tight economy first impressions is all you have. Nothing detracts from an otherwise outstanding speech than the constant distraction of the verbal pause. So, please take some time and pick up the phone and make your first one COUNT!  Here are some tricks to STOP THE INSANITY of saying UM while speaking.

Practice not saying them
I know this doesn’t make sense at first. Try to work on this during your daily conversations.

The more you focus on not saying ‘um,’ even when speaking with friends, the quicker you’ll break the habit.

Look for chances to speak
Speaking of practice, one of the best ways to beat the verbal pauses is to work on them during actual speeches. Unfortunately for most of us, we don’t get the chance very often. For job seekers, join a local job club and practice with the group. For business owners, join a local professional organization or networking group to practice this with.

Start counting
The next time you leave a voicemail or give a speech, have a friend count the number of times you use your verbal crutch (ah, um, like, etc.). You’ll be amazed at how many times you can say these in short amount of time.

If you can practice in front of a friend or two, have them give you a verbal cue each time you say ‘um.’ A bell or a loud clicker will help you focus on how often these are used.

Listen for them in others
Warning, this can get addictive. Sit down and watch the news or a presentation on C-Span. Count how many verbal pauses you hear over a 5-minute presentation or debate.

You’ll be amazed at how often even those who make their living on camera will say ‘um’ or ‘ah’ during their speech.

Record yourself
One of the best and one of the most painful, ways to improve your speaking ability is to tape yourself. Watching yourself give a speech will pinpoint exactly where you need to improve. And verbally record a voicemail into your own phone or recorder and play it back.

While both videotaping and verbal recording may be difficult to, this will pay big dividends for your next presentation and/or job interview.

Hopefully one or two of the methods above will work for you. Feel free to comment and add some ideas of your own.

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