You’re making a pitch. You have prepared and practiced. You know your information backwards and forwards. As you speak, you do one thing and suddenly you have no credibility. What did you just say?
That was it. You could have substituted “um” but the result is the same. Say it once and you can probably recover. Repeat it and your toast. You might not even be aware you’re saying it, which makes it harder to stop. The problem is that while it may not be noticeable to you as a speaker, it stands out to your audience, especially if you say it often. How often do people say it. One politician gave a three minute speech and said it over 100 times. His approval rating was terrible. He had no credibility.
What can you do about it? Studies have shown that speaker tend to say “uh” or “um” when they are collecting their thoughts. When you need to pause, pause. Say nothing. Practice saying nothing when you have to collect your thoughts. It may seem to you that you are silent for a long time. That is subjective Most of the time, the audience doesn’t notice the pause. They almost always notice the “uh.”
Keep your credibility by practicing over and over. Your speech should be second nature to you. Pause when you need to, but stop saying “uh.”
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