One way to sound authoritative and enhance your credibility when you speak is to minimize your use of fillers: those words that add no content. Common fillers are “um”, “uh”, “so”, “well”, “like”, and “you know”.
Fillers often distract your listeners and decrease your ability to project confidence and authority. Minimizing your use of fillers will help you enhance your image as an expert.
To minimize your use of fillers, rehearse this technique that actors use when they prepare to speak extemporaneously:
Set a timer for increasing time periods of time: two minutes, five minutes, or seven minutes to start. Record yourself as you speak in extended sentences on any business topic of your choice. Choose a topic that you know well, something you enjoy speaking about (but not your elevator speech or a sales pitch).
As you speak into the recorder, imagine that each word that comes from your mouth is connected to the next one, which is connected to the next one, and so on. Use the image of a long strand of pearls that are connected with no break.
Whenever you feel the urge to use a filler, do these three things:
- Stop yourself
- Say the filler silently to yourself
When the timer rings, play back the recording and monitor yourself for fillers. Then repeat the exercise with different topics.
As you become comfortable with this exercise, increase the setting on the timer (five minutes, ten minutes, and fifteen minutes), until you can speak for twenty minutes straight, extemporaneously, on new topics: without the use of fillers.
If you continue to rehearse this technique, you will find over time that you are reducing the number of fillers that you use.
You will sound more authoritative than you did in the past: you will increase your credibility and your professional image when you speak.