Hello there, I umm…want to…umm..talk about…umm. It’s annoying isn’t it? Can you imagine listening to someone who takes a week to finish a sentence because they don’t quite know what they want to say? Since childhood our parents have told us to think before we speak. As an adult, we should know it’s OK to pause before speaking to get our thoughts in order. It’s when you start actually speaking when pausing becomes annoying.
Imagine if your professor took twice as long to finish a lecture because half of the words they said were “um.” You wouldn’t learn anything because you would stop paying attention. The workplace is the same. Communication with a superior goes a lot smoother if your boss can understand what you’re trying to say. “Ums” are distracting and too many make you sound unorganized and nervous.
During a presentation, my high school speech teacher would sit in the corner and keep track of our “ums.” It was terrifying because we became conscious of them. However, now when I talk to someone I focus on getting my point across with as little distraction as possible. When I took speech classes in college, my professors would comment on my lack of verbal pauses and it gave me an edge over the other students. Limiting verbal pauses will increase your speaking confidence, which will be noticed by employers and, quite frankly, anyone else you have a conversation with. This will give you the competitive edge over candidates and co-workers who are not as confident in themselves and help you stand out above the rest. So follow the advice of your parents. STOP. THINK. SPEAK. In that order.
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