The Awkward Silence

It's time to own up...

Last time I updated the blog, I gave you my go-to exercise for curing "uhs" "ums" and"likes" in a prepared speech.  

(Need a refresher? I'll give you a hint: The exercise is called "Beat the Buzzer.")

At the end of that article, I promised I'd come back next week to reveal how to get rid of those pesky filler words in extemporaneous speaking.  


I took...

a very long...


Now, is it possible I forgot to hit the "schedule" button on the following blog? 


BUT, wouldn't it be more exciting if this long pause was intended to illustrate a point?! 

(Let's go with that.)

Because guess what?

When it comes to extemporaneous speaking, the #1 cause of filler words is:

Fear of the awkward silence.  

That's right. 

The "uhs", "ums", and "likes" usually creep in when we're unsure of what to say next. 

We use filler words as a crutch to help us avoid silences. 

But here's the thing...

Silence is an incredibly important tool in public speaking. 

Intentional pauses can be used to create emphasisadd drama, and allow your audience time to process what they've just heard. 

In the words of Amadeus Mozart:

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”

So, my challenge to you is this:

Next time you find yourself in a situation where you don't know what to say next, force yourself to take a full breath every time you feel the urge to add a filler word. 

It will not be as awkward as you think.

The breath gives you a moment to collect yourself and formulate a more coherent thought. 

Honestly, the pause will save you time.

Because imagine what takes longer:

1. (Breath) Coherent thought.

2. Long rambling sentence, where, uh, I, like, figure out what I'm saying, somewhere, maybe, uh, two thirds of the way though. 

Save yourself some time and stress and commit to embracing the silence. 

I, on the other hand, will commit to hitting "schedule" on next week's blog, because guess what we'll be tackling?

How to keep your cool while leading...The Dreaded Q&A.

Photograph of Sara Glancy on stairs
Headshot by Jessica Osber.

Sara Glancy is an NYC-based actor and public speaking coach and the founder of Speak Masterfully, a service that helps professionals take the stage with less fear and more fun! 

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