I find it funny to listen to radio programs or sports interviews on television with the athletes after the game. I shouldn’t say funny; It’s really sad the way the English language is being slaughtered by those who call it their mother tongue!
“Uh-um, you know, it’s like, I mean, he took the ball and you know, like then, uh-um, he threw it and yeah, man, ah, um and so on.”
Was it a prayer? Did the player really say something intelligible?
Filler words, redundancy, and continuous sentences hamper the impact of our speech. When we stand behind the lectern, we have the attention of our audience. People want to hear what we have to say and they deserve to hear something worthwhile.
Here are some tips to speak better:
1. Avoid running sentences. Don’t connect your sentences with “and” or “like this” or “but”. Instead, choose your words carefully and use shorter sentences.
2. Avoid filler words: Instead of inserting words that don’t help get your message across, just pause for a moment, breathe, and organize your thoughts. You still have the floor and no one is going to step in and interrupt you.
3. Use pauses for effect. You are the speaker and your audience listens carefully. Many people are uncomfortable with silence. A well-placed second of silence will have the audience look up to see what is happening on stage! You can retrieve a “sleepyhead” who was distracted. Music has silences that create silence. The silences in music are as important and effective as the notes. Silence is a valuable tool when giving a speech.
4. Practice good speaking habits. There are 3 P’s needed to make a good speech: practice, practice, practice. Every time you answer the phone, talk to a friend, or say a prayer, you have the privilege of being heard and have the opportunity to improve your skills and practice speaking well. Practice doesn’t make perfect; makes experience and experience give us confidence.
Make your point using as few words as possible. Eliminate unnecessary filler words. Use silence to rate the way you speak and you’ll notice a tremendous improvement in not just the way you speak, but the way people listen.
So speak well and don’t get “crowded”!