All public speakers struggle at one time or another with “fillers.” The “ums” and “ahs” pop up unexpectedly in our tales, stories, and demonstrations.
The most common advice speakers in training receive are to pause – let the words come to you mentally without reaching for fillers. But what if the cure was the opposite?
In “Do You Talk Funny?: 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker“, author David Nihill offers a suggestion for how to erase the “ah,” “eh,” and “buts” in your next speech. His suggestion: speak up.
“By speaking as little as 20 percent louder than normal, you will reduce the number of filler words you tend to use.” According to Nihill, it is harder to say the “ehs” and “ahs” at a pumped up volume.
While it may feel strange at first, but the higher-than-normal voice will seem normal to your audience. It may even enhance your audience’s ability to hear and understand you.
Next time you take center stage at work or in a Toastmaster’s meeting, pump up the volume and see how many filler words pop into your presentation.
Let us know if it works for you!
As welcoming as Morningstars are, when we first take the stage as newcomers, it can be daunting. We each have our own hangups that make it a challenge to stand up there and speak to a group. As we make our way through the speech projects, parts of it become easier. We start to understand the timing and how to craft a speech that fits within our allotted time. We begin to understand how to structure our content to make it flow easily for the listeners. We learn that the more prepared we are, the less likely our nerves are going to take over and sabotage us. We practise using hand gestures, changing up our vocal tone or volume, and we learn how to authentically connect with our audience.
Hmmm … yes, our audience. I’ve wondered about this aspect of Toastmasters. Sure, there are members coming and going so the audience is certainly not static, but I feel there is definitely a level of comfort that begins to form as we get to know our fellow members. There is a huge amount of trust being built among members, and that trust is paramount to the confidence that we are building in ourselves. We trust that we are not being “judged” for our speaking ability. We trust that the audience wants us to do well. We trust that members will have good things to say about our latest presentation. And we trust that members will offer us suggestions for improvement, because we trust that they care and they have our best interests for improvement in mind. All of this gives us comfort as we take the stage at Harmony Hall, while each successful project layers more confidence within us.
But what if we step out? What if we step out and dare to speak to an audience we don’t know? Can we? Can we do it? I’ve asked myself this a few times, and my answer toggles between a resounding yes and a deafening no. Many of our members have spoken outside of Morningstars and they seem to have survived, so I might give it a try. Our VP of Public Relations, Johanna, is encouraging members to take part in the Festival of Performing Arts this year in the Speech and Dramatic Arts category. Some members have already signed up! I’m still toggling but by watching other members in the club step out, I am becoming more and more inspired.
Last spring, I watched PJ, Katherine and William take the stage to a full house at the library and they were fantastic! I saw new member Ria take the stage at PowHERtalks in the fall, and was sorry to miss Sandy speaking at the Gibsons Art Gallery. William and Johanna both competed in the Division Tall Tales contest in Vancouver! I heard that Patricia was splendid as she did an author reading in Molly’s Lane recently. PJ has an upcoming gig at the Arts Building. And Katherine–I’m super excited about this one–will be one of the workshop presenters at WoW! A Weekend of Workshops for the Self-Employed being held at FUSE Community Work Hub on Feb 27 and 28, 2016. Her workshop is called Speak With Power and Presence and it combines her knowledge as a voice coach with her skill as a Toastmaster.
Congratulations to all of our members for Speaking Your Mind and Speaking Your Heart both inside and outside of Harmony Hall. You inspire me!
VP Membership 2015/16