You don’t notice when people don’t say “um” and “uh” and “you know.” When they do, though, they can really interfere with listening because they break the flow. Those are the obvious “vocalized pauses,” but there are others that will interfere for a different reason, and they can be even harder for a speaker to notice and eliminate.
The first step in dealing with them is recognizing them. Let’s look at three classes of vocalized pauses. Continue reading
There is a bit of wisdom that sticks with me from childhood, from Ecclesiastes 4:12, that says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Even if you don’t do a lot of manual labor (I certainly don’t), you still know that a typical rope isn’t just a bunch of threads. It consists of fibers twisted into yarn, yarn twisted into strands, and strands twisted into lays. A typical rope consists of three lays.
That metaphor serves well in thinking about improving effective speaking. It takes competence in three areas woven together: effective delivery, effective organization for the ear, and effective content. Continue reading
I’m privileged to observe an intelligent, capable leader develop even greater impact through learning more effective delivery as a speaker.
I can’t remember who said it to give proper credit, but someone once said that if you can give an effective speech and you can run a meeting, you can rule the world. Intentional overstatement though it might be, it gets at how important communication skills are. I’m seeing that in action. Continue reading
I hear this argument all the time. Which is more important? Solid content? Or solid delivery?
My definitive answer: both are more important. Continue reading
Take a look at this article from The Art of Manliness blog. Yes, it’s gender-centric. But the advice is good for anyone, and really is more properly focused toward men. As the article notes, men are much more likely to use filled pauses (ums, uhs, etc.) than women.
So try to look past any perceived bias to the pragmatic explanation of where filled pauses come from and what to do about them. Just read Becoming Well-Spoken: How to Minimize Your Uh’s and Um’s by Brett and Kate McKay (does it help that the co-author is female?).
Lama Norlha Rinpoche
I heard Lama Norlha Rinpoche recount last night his harrowing escape from the Chinese invasion of his homeland, as well as subsequent events that brought him to our little corner of Tennessee.
His speaking situation was not one that many speakers would want to face. Continue reading
I’ve read a few posts lately mentioning that eye contact is hard for a speaker, even experienced ones. (One place I just saw it is in the very good article “5 Public Speaking Tips that Build Relationships.”) I agree! But I also want to push a little beyond the initial resistance we have to it.
As Dr. Michelle observes, “Making eye contact allows you to connect with your audience.” The emphasis here is on genuine contact. The old saws about picking out a spot on the back wall or looking at their foreheads do not work simply because they don’t establish contact. While the idea of contacting a stranger that intimately seems threatening at first, once you do you’ll discover something very pleasant: there is no such thing as an audience! Continue reading