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6 Tricks To Eliminate Disfluencies From Your Speech

6 Tricks To Eliminate Disfluencies From Your Speech

As a public speaker and broadcaster, I experienced disfluencies in my speech a lot of times during the initial stages of my training. In time, with lots of determination, I was able to overcome this problem.

I’m pretty sure you would like to eradicate your disfluencies too; am I right? Your reasons could be: you’d like to communicate better, and to present yourself as a true professional; someone who has important messages to share, and has the ability to express themselves clearly.

Not like the supervisor-technician who introduced himself during a broadcasting seminar I attended recently. He spoke this way:

“I’m Oscar [not his real name] and, aah, I’ma, um,areatechnical director of XYZ Broadcasting Network, right. And I supervise, like, 25 technicians from, aah, different cities.I, um, oversee, theday to day operations of these, ahh, stationsand make monthly reports of our, mmm,broadcasting operations”.

I was appalled! He is an area director of a huge broadcasting network and he sounded more like a teenager than a professional with a respectable position. While he was talking I began to doubt whether or not he was telling the truth. His ‘ums’, ‘aahs’, ‘likes’, and other filler words made me question his credibility and what he was saying.

Moving on, in these times, when communication skills are a part of the basis of measuring an individual’s credibility, it’s imperative that you invest time to improve your speaking abilities, or at least, develop a stronger ability to express your thoughts. This might be for everyday conversations, meetings, negotiations, or for occasions when you have to address a bigger audience.

To help you out, you can use some of the simple tricks below to, finally, eliminate speech disfluencies:

1. Find out why you experience disfluencies

Disfluencies in speech are breaks or interruptions in speech that negatively affect the communication flow. These disruptions minimize the clarity of your message, and they steal some of your credibility. Nope, actually, to be blunt about it- they steal most of your credibility. But, why do disfluencies appear in your conversations and in your talks?

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They show up most commonly when you stand before a crowd. There are several reasons: when you stand in front of a crowd, there’s a big probability that you’ll be stressed, nervous, or too excited. The worst reason is when you’re petrified your talk will be a mess. Because of these reasons, you’ll often lose the ability to express your thoughts well. Being aware of why you experience disfluencies can help you to address the problem.

2. Find out what errors you frequently make

One of the best ways to check the type of disfluencies you often commit is to record yourself while talking. Based on my many years in broadcasting, I’m biased towards this method to check what kind of disfluencies you experience. By recording yourself while you speak, you can listen to yourself talking and do so over and over again. This way, you can check for repeated mistakes. For example, if it’s the case that you utter “aah” most of the time when you are not sure what to say next, be aware of it and next time you speak, instead of saying “aah”, just stop talking, and stay quiet.

Having a momentary silence is better that saying “aah”. Listen to yourself in a recording, and soon you’ll learn your negative speech tendencies. With the invaluable knowledge that you now possess you can start to learn how to eliminate these fillers. That’s the key to solving this problem: total awareness. There are several ways to do this which will be explained more thoroughly in point 4 and point 5.

Talking about recording yourself, are you comfortable with technology? Yes? I suggest you enlist free audio editing software (GarageBand for Mac users and Audacity for PC users). Utilizing this software will let you see your words in audio format (I know, it’s not easy to believe, but it’s true). For tech-challenged people like me, a simple tool you can use is Utterz.com—all you need to do is dial a number and, presto, your voice will be recorded.

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3. Practice pausing when you’re about to commit a disfluency

After going through point 2, and becoming aware of your disfluencies, you can begin to correct them. When you practice talking, upon getting to the point where you are about to utter a filler sound or a filler word, stay quiet. Pick up from there, then say the next words you want to express. Repeat the procedure every time you get to the point where you’re about to commit a disfluency. It’s actually that easy, but it’s easier said than done. The trick is consistent practice.

The next time you are invited to speak (even at simple gatherings, mind you) practice every little part of your speech. That way, you can start eliminating the specific filler sounds or filler words you often use. Every time you are about to say your favorite filler word, take a pause and keep quiet. Right after that, continue with your speech.

4. Develop your speech rhythm

You use unstudied speech when you fail to plan for a talk. When you fail to do this crucial step, you also fail to organize your talk properly. Hence, if you organize your speech well- meaning you organize your thoughts and points before delivering your speech- you will surely speak better.

Presentation and speech improvement specialist and trainer, Ritchelle Blanco Dejolde, strongly suggests chunking your sentences prior to uttering them, then (this is the important part) pause for a second or two. Dejolde reiterates, “Chunking your sentences will help you create a rhythm in your communication flow: spoken words/then break/spoken words/another break. Keep on with that rhythm and your “aahs” and “umm’s” will evaporate like gas in the air”.

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5. Use pre-planned transitional phrases

Another favorite tactic I use is saying pre-planned transition phrases whenever I have the urge to use one of the filler words I usually say. One such word is “um”. One of its uses is to make your audience be aware that you’re not through with what you’re saying yet, and need to collect your thoughts. A better alternative is to have some ready transitional phrases to use in any presentation or meeting, such as “Let’s move on to…”, “Another important point is…”, or even “Let’s transition to talking about…” At first, doing this will make you feel like a fraud or like you’re being too technical. However, when you regularly practice using these go-to transitional phrases you will start to feel more natural and you will ultimately minimize your tendency to say, “Um,” or any other filler words.

6. Establish and maintain eye contact

Remember when you went on the first dates with your girlfriend? You may not have noticed that you were engaged in a lot of eye contact, but you were. You were unaware that you were establishing such a superb rapport with her through the use of your engaging eye contact. You were like an expert (or actually an expert in that particular moment) in eye contact, since you were experiencing intense emotions. Let’s apply that principle to public speaking. Here, you’ll have to force yourself to make eye contact ’cause you are not in love with the people in front of you. When you are successful with this, you will minimize experiencing disfluencies.

But, why? Simply, it’s awkward to say “aah” when you indulge in sincere eye contact with other people. Try experimenting in your next conversation or talk; stand in a position where you can directly gaze into the crowd you’re addressing and give them the most engaging attention you can give. For another example, during a conference call, do not linger looking at the window or the wall, absently. Do not pace the room while being unmindful of what you’re doing, either. Rather, check your notes, or better yet, your actual script. Basically, when faced with a live audience, an online crowd, or an on-the-phone audience, your fillers will come out lesser if you strive to make eye contact.

In less time than expected, through the effective tactics mentioned here, and with regular practice, I have minimized using filler words. Apply these strategies when preparing your speeches too and sooner rather than later, you’ll eliminate the credibility-stealers you aimed to kick out of your vocabulary.

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Featured photo credit: Public Speaking/Photo Credit: tedxuniversidadedebraslia via Compfight cc via compfight.com

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Anthony Dejolde

TV/Radio personality who educates his audience on entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

We all know some overachievers: supermoms who manage to get online degrees between cleaning, cooking, and taking kids to practice; students who write 10-page papers when the directions call for 4; managers whose resumes look more like pages from the Guinness book of Records.

How do they do it all? How is it possible that one person can graduate at the top of their class, found an orphanage in India, run 30k marathons, write a best-selling book, travel all over the world and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese while having a full-time job?

What’s the secret of an overachiever? Here’re 11 things overachievers do differently that you can learn from.

1. They Know How to Manage Their Time

It’s pretty simple actually – you can never become an overachiever if you don’t know how to organize your time efficiently.

The great thing is that overachievers are ready to share their knowledge and time management talent with the rest of the world. Read The 4-Hour Workweek or The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

2. They Don’t Spend Hours Watching TV or Playing Computer Games

Mostly because they have better things to do, like exercising, reading, spending an evening with their family or volunteering to work in the local soup kitchen. Their philosophy is simple – the world is full of wonderful things to try, explore and experience. Watching TV is not one of them.

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3. They Are Obsessed With Perfection

Imagine Steve Jobs’ work approach and you’ll understand the level of perfection and painfully high standards that overachievers set for themselves and those around them. Often it pays off (especially if they focus on just one domain). But sometimes compulsive over-striving turns into a sure-fire road to disappointments and unfinished tasks.

Learn how to strike a balance: How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up

4. They Know How To Inspire

Overachievers learn quickly that it is much easier to achieve goals through collaboration (and especially delegation). So they know how to inspire, encourage, persuade and motivate people around them. Even though they often drive their team crazy with their stubbornness and perfectionism, people quickly follow under the spell of their enthusiasm and greater vision.

Learn these 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively.

5. They Set Clear Goals

The term “overachiever” itself implies that they know how to achieve goals. That is kind of hard to do if your goals are vague, unclear and lack specific deadline, which is why overachievers educate themselves, read goal-setting books, and think about the best way to approach a new task.

Although, it’s worth mentioning that overachievers usually use their time management and goal-setting skills towards competitive, “I want to kick butt” type of goals rather than self-improvement, mastery goals.

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Take a look at these tips to help you set clearer goals: What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

6. They Are Organized

It’s hard to imagine a disorganized overachiever, isn’t it? Their great organizational and planning skills usually serve three main purposes: keeping track of time, keeping track of progress and keeping track of achievements.

This hasn’t been confirmed by scientific research yet, but overachievers might actually get a “runner’s high” from crossing tasks off their to-do lists, and making new to-do lists.

Here’s How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

7. They Try to Avoid Failure at All Costs

Some psychologists believe that overachievers place their self-worth on their competence, driven by an underlying fear of failure. Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their core motivation becomes avoiding failure. This may explain the fact that overachiever beat themselves up for even little setbacks and seemingly-insignificant mistakes.

But be aware that having a strong fear of failure can wrek havoc your productivity. So the best thing to do? Learn to conquer the fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It)

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8. They Love Awards

Who doesn’t love them, right? True enough, but unlike most people who like to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, overachievers are bent on collecting ‘awards’, be it university degrees, spelling bee prizes or unusual destinations.

While loving awares isn’t bad, it’s even better if you’re driven by internal motivation instead of external ones which could be quite uncontrolable or unstable: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It).

9. They Don’t Understand the Concept of Work Hours

Don’t get surprised if you receive a work-related email anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight. It’s something overachievers usually do and you weren’t the only one. At least 20 more emails have been sent during these hours to other people. The concepts of over-achieving and working overtime usually go hand in hand.

The downside of this is an imbalnced life, which may need to problems in other aspects of life including health and relationships. A better way is to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance.

10. They Rest

Overachievers might often be labeled as “workaholics”, because they often ignore bodily signs of hunger, fatigue and even a full bladder, hoping to finish just one last little part. This doesn’t mean that overachievers don’t know how to disconnect and relax.

True that they tend to work in the highest gear, but they also have enough sense to give themselves time to rest and recharge. Of course, they do it in their own overachieving way, preferring climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hiking through the Amazon jungle to lazing on the beach.

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11. Overachievers Continuously Educate Themselves

A great quality that most overachievers have is the hunger for knowledge. They surround themselves with bright people. They know how to listen, and most importantly, they get tons of mentoring.

Despite the fact that overachievers want to excel at everything they set their minds on, they are humble enough to admit that to get on top of their game, they need help. And they are willing to pay someone to push, coach and guide them.

You too can learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

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Featured photo credit: Nghia Le via unsplash.com

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