How Many Uh's Are Okay?
What’s an “UH?” If you say UH yourself, you may call it a filler. When someone else says UH, you likely call it a Junk word! It’s both. We use uhs, uhms, you knows to fill the silence. And the more often we say these, the more they become JUNK!
I often get the question, “A few UHS won’t hurt you, will they?” My answer is to return some questions… Do you want to say UH at the beginning of a speech? How about when you are delivering a dramatic close? Or when you begin the answer to a tough question? The answer is usually, “Of course not.” So that’s why I recommend zero tolerance. Why bother saying them at all…?
Stop Using Fillers
Your first step is to determine if you use “fillers.” Record yourself, and ask others to give you feedback. You may be surprised! Then the next step is to focus on the “fillers”. Do they occur when you make a transition? When you stop to think of the next word or phrase? When you are translating from one language to another? Or when you break eye contact with the audience?
Then practice and focus. The “cure” will be to turn the filler into silence.
Learn to pause. When you reach any point where you lose your place, stop talking. Mentally regroup and catch your uhs before they come out of your mouth. Then we won’t be tempted to count them, and you’ll sound prepared and confident.