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How to Stop Saying "Um" and "Ah" When You Speak

Learn how to stop saying "um" and "ah" while giving a speech from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking video.


So how do you get rid of the ums and ahs from your speech? This is something a lot of people really worry about. First of all you've got to realize everybody says ah and um occasionally. It's no big deal. I can think of three people who say ah and um all the time, more often than you do. David Letterman, Martha Stewart, Bill O'Reilly. What do they all have in common? They make tens of millions of dollars a year speaking. So maybe we shouldn't be so worried about the ums and ahs and instead should be focused on actually saying something interesting.

Now all things being equal, the fewer ums and ahs, the better, because if, um, um, um, every other, um, word you're, um, saying is um, people will start counting the ums and not focusing on what you're actually saying. Now I have a technique I use with CEOs, presidents of countries, prime ministers all over the world. It's amazingly effective. If you say um too often or ah too often, simply type up the word um, small font, put a red circle around it and a slash, the international no sign. No left hand turn. No parking. All of a sudden, no ah, no um.

Here's what I do. I put cut that out, and I tape that to the 12 on someone's watch or just put it right on their cell phone, whatever it is you look at numerous times a day. So here's what happens. After a day, you're going to be looking at your watch or your cell phone dozens of times a day. You do that every day. So after a day, when you say ah or um you're all of a sudden aware of it. You have this sort of duh, Homer Simpson moment when you are aware of saying ah or um or er.

Now after two or three days, your mouth and lips and tongue almost send out that ah or um. The image comes up, but it still comes out. You still say the ah or um. But after a week, the image will come up. Now you can simply pause. Instead of the ah or um coming out, you're pausing. You're aware of it. Now you'll come across more confident, more comfortable, more relaxed.

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