The “Uhh, Ahh Crutch” is one of the most annoying habits any speaker can exhibit.
It will alienate your audience and make you seem like a rank amateur.
Verbal crutches are those irritating things people do when they attempt to let their thoughts catch up to their words. and are sure-fire indications of a novice speaker.
The “Uhh” Game was an On-Air contest and game played by Don Geronimo and Mike O’Meara, emcees of a top-rated radio talk show. Aimed at people who fancied themselves fledgling radio announcers and DJs, this game was a killer. Callers got to talk on the air for 30 seconds on a topic chosen by Don and Mike. To win the prize players could not say ahh, uh, uhm, um, duh, or use any other verbal crutches.
Hardly Anyone Ever Won!
Before you begin to represent yourself as a speaker or presenter, you must discard your verbal crutches.
Silence is Golden
“Uh” used on rare occasions is a forgivable sin. Used frequently, however, it’s a kiss of death.
We all have our “Uh” moments, it’s what we fill them that makes the difference, and silence is the best filler.
It’s perfectly OK to pause and collect your thoughts for the next word, but please don’t feel compelled to fill the empty space with some sort of sound.
A slight pause in your words, is a powerful communications tool. Carefully inserted silence can help maintain, listener attention.
When the constant patter of a boring speaker is lulling you into a state of sullen stupor, a sudden silence will grab your attention. If you see the audience beginning to drift, shut up for a moment.
Improve Your Speaking By Listening – Whip The Uhh-Ahh Demon!
Pay attention to other speakers. Television talk shows, radio interviews and everyday conversations will reveal many people on their verbal crutches, and others who can easily walk through verbal mine fields.
- Pick a random topic. A great way to do this is picking the next phrase you hear on the radio or TV. Now, speak for one minute on that topic.
- Record yourself and listen for the Uhs, Ahs, Uhms, and other verbal crutches. Pay careful attention. The injection of “Uh” into your speech is subconscious. You don’t notice it when you say it.
- Repeat what you said, carefully replacing the crutches with silence.
- Practice, listen, practice, listen and practice some more.
Trust me, you (and your audience) will be impressed.
Uhh-Ahh isn’t the Only Devil Out to Get You
While you are at it, watch out for the next deadly crutch, “you know.” (closely followed by the annoying ‘like.’ If like they already know, you wouldn’t be, like, you know, telling them.
“Well, I was, ahhh, you know, like crossing the, uhhh street one day, uhhh, you know, at a uhh, like you know, a crosswalk, and this uhhh, truck, ummm like a really big, uhhh, you know, like a really big garbage truck killed me!” (And not a moment too soon.)
Another excruciatingly annoying crutch is “The Okay Question.”
Ending every other sentence with “Okay?” instead of a period is bound to incite rage in any listener.
Do you really expect the listener to reply to this aggravating crutch?
“So we were ahhh like going out to this uhhhh museum, OK? And we saw an umm mummy, OK? And it was like, you know, all dead and stuff OK?
And we wonder why people shoot one another!