People make judgements about you based on how you speak. Your speech affects your credibility and even how intelligent you are seen as being.
I recently watched a presentation where the speaker used “uh,” “umm” and other verbal fillers more than 37 times in 10 minutes. I counted. He fidgeted, put his hands in his pockets and looked completely uncomfortable. He knew his subject, but his nervous mannerisms made him appear less than credible.
Fillers, tics and nervous mannerisms are most common when speaking in front of a group, but they can creep in to your daily conversations, too. At the airport, I overheard two women having a business conversation and I was astounded at how often they used the word “like.”
If you catch yourself using “like,” “uh,” “you know,” etc., it usually means that you are stalling for time to think of your next word. Slow down. Take a breath. Think about what you’re saying.
Ask a friend to signal you when you slip into one of your bad habits.
Record yourself speaking in different situations and listen to how you sound.
Concentrate on removing one bad habit at a time. Trying to fix everything at once may make you more nervous and self-conscious when you speak. Start by, for example, getting rid of “like.”
Remember that anyone listening to you speak, whether one-on-one or in a group, is usually hoping you will speak well and communicate effectively. They’re on your side. Don’t let nervousness affect your ability to communicate powerfully.