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Public speaking tip #1: Conquer lazy words

Public Speaking Audience
Public Speaking Audience
Caryn Colgan

Whether you are presenting data to a small team of co-workers or a large audience at a trade convention, these tips will help you deliver content that they actually want to hear. Practice the tips from this public speaking tips series often so that they become natural and effortless.

The reason that public speaking tips are so important is that when you project yourself with confidence, others infer you are also competent. This confidence also can be described as charisma.

Lazy words can make you appear insecure because you don't know what to say next. They reflect a lack of awareness about what comes out of your mouth. To be an effective communicator, practice self-awareness as it relates to your speech.

How to conquer the lazy words

In Toastmasters International meetings, members ring bells or shake rattles when designated speakers utter garbage or filler words. This tremendously helpful activity makes the speaker aware of each time they say, “um”, “ah”, “you know”, “like”, “ok”, “right” and many other distracting filler words.

You have probably heard speakers who had not conquered lazy words. Not only can these annoying little words divert the audience’s attention, some people count them. When this happens, the speaker’s message gets lost.

Don’t let this happen to you.

An executive speaker in a recent seminar assailed the audience with over 115 “ums” in a four-minute speech. He received supportive feedback which included recording himself practicing his next presentation, listening to it and counting the lazy words. He was also asked to listen for the lazy words as he spoke to others in person and on the phone.

The results were astounding.

Within days, he virtually eliminated all of the lazy words. He stated that even his wife appreciated his new self-awareness and joked it may have saved his marriage.

Another tip is to pause when you feel the lazy word start creeping into your mind. They occur most often between sentences. However, some of the worst offenders, like the executive in the above story, interject them in the middle of their sentences. Pause, formulate your next words without a filler word and then speak. This is also a good time to take a breath.

In summary, do these things to become a better communicator:

1. Ask your career coach, co-workers and family members to identify your lazy words. Yes, they already know what they are. They will probably be grateful that you want to work on this.

2. Record yourself talking on the phone or practicing a speech. For legal purposes, don’t record the other person on a call, just yourself.

3. Pause between sentences and take a breath.

Pay close attention to the words you speak not just during presentations but also in your conversations with others. You will be a much more powerful speaker and project the competence you possess.

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