Avoiding The “Ums”

I used to have a terrible case of the “Ums.” That is — I had the ability to inject the word “um” into all of my speeches and presentations. When you listen to a person who uses ums, or sometimes ahs, speak, it is actually very distracting, particularly when you start to focus on it. It also makes the speaker appear less polished or perhaps even nervous.

If you are guilty of using “ums” and “ahs” when speaking, here are a few tips you use to help prevent the use of these words:

  • Practice your speech or presentation. The more comfortable you are with the material, the less likely you are to use “ums” and “ahs.”
  • Ums and ahs are usually used as you think of what you are going to say next. Instead, use a simple pause. Not only will this give you a few moments to gather your thoughts, it also gives your audience a chance to reflect on what you presented.
  • Speaking too fast can also result in ums and ahs because your mouth may be two steps ahead of your mind. Try to slow down so your mind is able to keep up with what you are saying.

Remember, getting rid of the ums and ahs will not happen overnight. It takes time, practice and a lot of experience.


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  • Betty Harding


    The president’s press secretary should read tabout the UMs..

    It appears he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about he uses so many ums and uhs.

  • http://publicspeakerone.blogspot.com Lindsay

    I have one key hint for you and your readers. To really get the practice conquering “um’s” and “ahh’s”, as well as getting a raft of helpful feedback, take advantage of Toastmasters International. It’s an organization of thousands of clubs all dedicated towards helping people improve their communications (public speaking) and leadership skills.

    For the (apoxximately) $70 per year cost, if you invest the time to attend and participate, you’ll be repaid hundreds of times over.

    For more information see: http://publicspeakerone.blogspot.com/2004_05_01_archive.html

    and of course http://toastmasters.org