We each have a unique style of speaking, whether it’s one-on-one or in for a big audience. I’m sure people have pointed out to you in the past about how different you might pronounce a word or how you have an interesting way of saying something? The way we talk is something we’ve developed over the years starting with our childhood, and has been influenced by our parents, siblings, friends, TV and even books we read.
One of the ways that you stand out in the crowd, and a way people will often distinguish you, is by your speaking style. But often when presenting to a bigger audience, that specific way you speak becomes the point of focus for the duration of the speech. By and large, that is the thing that impacts the first impression you make during, say a presentation. Regardless, now and then the way you talk can wind up being a distraction if your speech is riddled with eccentricities or “quirks”.
You can get some conspicuous verbal mannerisms that can impact your ability to be a good speaker. Those eccentric speech quirks justify some consideration, in order for you to discover them and eliminate them while going up against a social setting or a group individuals. The one idiosyncrasy that is most striking may be the dreaded “um.” We’ve all sat through a lecture or a wedding speech, where the speaker kept saying “um” after every other word. The repetitive use of “um” can really affect how engaged you keep your audience during a speech. Using it too many times is a sign that either you’re nervous or just not very well prepared. Or perhaps the speaker lost their train of thought. “Um” is often a subconscious effort to buy time while the speaker gathers their thoughts and gets back on track.
There are other public speaking quirks besides the infamous “um” that can really distract from one’s speech. Take for example the very popular “you know”. Even very capable speakers have been caught using that phrase indiscriminately.
Occasionally particular phrases wind up being popular for a while and you start noticing everyone around you saying those phrases. Often these phrases are coined by a celebrity or public figure and they become part of pop-culture. It’s ok to sprinkle a speech with a few popular phrases here and there. The problem is when it become over-used, to the point that your speech starts to lose all meaning.
The real issue with these quirks is you won’t know yourself that you are utilizing them. You are so involved in your delivery of your presentation that the quirks start finding their way in and ending up taking over your style . Regardless, with a little practice it is possible to slash down or take out the need of falling back on these pesty quirks. Like they say practice makes perfect.
Know your presentation well, and take the time to research and understand the topic. When you are confident in the topic you are presenting, your speech will flow more smoothly and withour having to fall back on “um” – at least not too many times!