When I teach public speaking, one of the tips I offer is to learn how to stop connecting your sentences with verbal tics, such as “um” or “ah.” There is a word, however, that is that is sometimes abused in speaking as well.

Many people connect their sentences with the word and. After some time, this verbal faux pas becomes very obvious especially on stage. What it means for the speaker is that he/she is delivering one huge compound sentence. What it means for the audience is verbal tedium.

What makes for an interesting delivery of a presentation is the variety of language that is used in speaking (as well as in writing). You were probably taught in your high school English classes not to begin every sentence with the subject followed by the verb. The problem in public speaking is that some people not only create simple sentences but they connect them all with the word and.

Example: Not Good

The old man walked to the store to buy some milk and the store had no milkand he brought orange juice instead and then he saw that it had started to rain.

The above example does not make for interesting reading or speaking and is considered poor writing. Now watch what happens when I change it up, so to speak.

Example: Better

The old man walked to the store to buy some milk; but, the shelves were empty so he purchased some orange juice instead. After paying the clerk, he saw that it had started to rain.

Read both sentences out loud. Notice the difference in how they sound. While this case is a bit extreme, I find many speakers connecting many of their sentences with the word and instead of stopping at the end of the sentence, pausing briefly, and then continuing with the next one. In truth, and used in this manner is similar to an uh or um, a verbal tic.

While the spoken word is admittedly different than the written word, there are more similarities than differences. The continual connecting of sentences is tedious to the listener and does not offer even a brief pause for the listener. If you are unsure whether you connect your sentences in this manner, record yourself in a mock presentation and study the playback.

Should you discover that indeed you abusing the and, take just a small bit of your material and practice saying it several different ways. Then move on to another block of material. (Incidentally, this is good advice for learning your presentation as well.)

Using variety in your sentence structure is one of your obligations if you are looking to improve your presentation skills. Stop connecting your sentences one after the other. Allow yourself to pause and begin another sentence anew.

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. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Voice Dynamic.

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