A couple of years ago I heard myself doing a pre-recorded radio interview and was shocked at how ‘scripted’ I sounded. I began to question whether the advice I’ve always been given to cut out filler words like um and ah had caused me to sound like a robot instead of a real person.
Since then I haven’t been as hung up on it as I used to be and feel quite comfortable if I let the odd ‘um’ or ‘ah’ slip out. That is how people talk after all.
On the other hand there’s no doubt some people use too many meaningless sounds and words in their general speech – and it tends to get worse when they speak in public. If you use too many it can be distracting, even annoying, to an audience and also detract from your credibility.
Try to record yourself doing a speech or get someone to actually count your ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ etc. You will soon tell if there are too many.
As a rough guide, some people I’ve seen use an um or an ah every few seconds. I personally find this incredibly aggravating and impossible to listen to. On the other hand, just one here and there I don’t think is anything to be concerned about.
The most important thing is that your message is clear and understood. If you can effectively communicate your message then I’m happy. If it’s a little unpolished then you can relax knowing you are a normal human being.
Owner, Wise Words Communications