"If you could improve one thing about your public speaking, what would you focus on?" and one reader said she wants to work on "Speaking a little faster. Toastmasters training helped me eliminate the filler words but removing all those um and er and ya know fillers left me with too many audible gaps."
Really? I'm not a fan of trying to eradicate ums and uhs, which are natural in every language and didn't become verboten until the advent of audio recordings of speech. My solutions are twofold: Develop some "time-buying phrases" that give you time to think of what to say next, and better yet, get comfortable with silences. There's no reason your talk--no matter how long or short--needs to be a wall-to-wall carpet of sound. In fact, with a little planning, you can put pauses in aforethought and for effect.
Many speakers I know resort to speeding up to fill perceived (by them) awkward spaces and silences, or when they're afraid of being stopped and questioned. But speaking too fast carries its own penalties and may mean your words go unabsorbed--and we mustn't have that, speakers. Check out the links below to learn more about speed, ums, silences and related topics.
Related posts: Are you comfortable with silence as a speaker?
The research lowdown on speaker speeds
What to say when you don't know what to say: time-buying phrases
When did "um" become a dirty word?
Use the Evernote clip button, above, to save this post in an Evernote notebook. Go here to subscribe to Step Up Your Speaking, my free email newsletter that looks at a different speaking topic in depth each month...then become a fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook and join the conversation with thousands of other women (and men) about public speaking skills and confidence.