While the phrase ‘you know’ has not yet replaced the verbal tics ‘um’ and ‘ah,’ it is gaining momentum both in the delivery of presentations and in normal conversation. If you are aware that you use one of more of these fillers, it really is not difficult to eliminate them if you willing to practice and record yourself.

I once worked with a young man who couldn’t even introduce himself without placing an um between his first and last names. He was so disgusted with himself when he heard himself on a recording that he walked out of the class. However, a week later he returned to the group for our next session without one verbal tic. It was truly amazing to see and hear the difference in this young man.

Conversation or a presentation that is replete with verbal tics is distracting because your listeners pay more attention to your filler words and are unable to focus on your message. In fact, some of us will even begin to count those verbal annoyances.

Follow the steps below and see if you can’t break this habit.

    1. Record yourself in normal conversation whether you are facing the other individual or whether you are on the phone. You may feel self-conscious at first, so concentrate on the conversation and not on your equipment.

    2. Play the conversation back and study it. Take note of when you use the verbal tic. While ums and ahs can be found anywhere in a sentence, they may only occur at the end of a phrase or sentence. You know, on the other hand, tends to occur at the beginning of the sentence, at the end of the sentence or at both the beginning and the end, depending on how often you rely on those two words.

What is vital in studying the playback is to take note of when it is occurring. Really listen to yourself.

    3. Record yourself again and pay attention to your words as you speak. If you do this often enough, you should begin to recognize when you are about to add a tic. You can retrain your inner ear to it is happening.

    4. When you are tempted to add a filler, stop, pause, and then resume. (Pausing is wonderful as long as you are not stopping after every 3 or 4 words.)

An occasional um or ah is not something that should concern you. The problem is when it is happening in abundance. If such is the case, you really should stop it for the sake of your listeners.

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. If you would like to see and hear a dramatic change, from childlike to mature, watch Trish's 'Before & After' video clip.