Course Five Media

Curing Verbal Viruses in Your Speech

After this free lesson you will:

  • Learn the cure for verbal viruses
  • Understand several strategies on how to shape out filler words
  • Speak with clarity and sound fluent which is the number one most important skill for media venues
Q

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Damaging verbal filler words are sounds used in speech such as so, um, like, ya know, stuff, and uh-huh, or noises that come from lip smacking, tongue clicking, or throat clearing that is not necessary for your message. When these types of filler words or noises are used excessively, they become “verbal viruses” since they impair and break down the quality of your message and personal leadership brand. Teenagers commonly speak using verbal viruses. Who wants to discuss important business topics with someone who presents like an adolescent?

Verbal viruses disrupt the flow of speech and distract, cause your listener to work harder to understand, and diminish your level of credibility and professionalism. In the business world, where communication is a key value for leadership, there can be no place for verbal viruses. If you suffer from verbal viruses, don’t be dismayed. The good news is there is a cure.

Q

Purchase your Course Bundle. Five Courses for One Price

Where do Verbal Viruses Come From?

Causes of verbal viruses are nervous behavior, talking too fast, and lack of preparation. Verbal viruses become injected as the speaker is coordinating his or her thoughts. After a while, it becomes a reinforced habit. Some speakers are not even aware they have this habit until someone brings it to their attention.

Fast talkers can be challenged with verbal viruses. When speakers have a lot they want to say or become excited, their thoughts move faster than what their speech articulators can accommodate. As a result, a filler word gets injected into the statement to essentially buy time for the next thought to formulate. Verbal viruses can also be used to stall for time while thoughts are being arranged. It is very easy for this behavior to become habit because it is a natural way for fast talkers to communicate.

Regardless of the cause, verbal viruses are a habit that should be eliminated or significantly reduced. A verbal virus can damage the reputation and limit the credibility of a well-intended speaker, and it serves no purpose in professional conversations.

Speech will never be perfect. Our thoughts and speech mechanisms do not move at the same time. Talking is a fine motor skill. Verbal viruses become distracting when they are consistently used at the beginning of a statement. People get into the habit of starting a thought with a verbal virus. When you are deep in explanation, it is not unusual to connect moving thoughts with an um or some other filler word. Ideally, they should not be used. Verbal viruses are especially noticeable and distracting when used at the beginning of a statement; for example, “So, I called this meeting to discuss.” If you do this, it is worth getting the behavior under control. If you use filler words occasionally to connect a thought, that is okay. The bigger problem is starting every line with so.

Finding a Cure for Verbal Viruses

Before a verbal virus can be reduced, you must first increase your awareness of the behavior and have insight on how frequently it appears in your communication. There are several approaches for facilitating insight into and awareness of this behavior.

1. Identify your personal filler words.

Before generating your plan for reducing your verbal viruses, it is important that you take a moment to realize whether it is due to a nervous behavior or has become a reinforced habit. In your speech notebook, reserve a page for this exercise, and write down what specific verbal filler words and/or physical behaviors such as lip smacking you use that interfere with your speech. In addition, identify the specific situations when they happen. Do they occur all the time? Are they prevalent in specific situations such as speaking to an authority figure, specific individual, or group? Once you have awareness of the behaviors, you are well on the way toward your verbal viruses being cured.

When Verbal Viruses Appear:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Keep a tally.

Keeping a tally is an excellent approach to increasing your awareness of verbal viruses. My clients are very successful with this technique. To increase your awareness and to break the verbal virus habit, write the date of each day for the next two or three weeks on separate Post-it notes or pieces of scratch paper. Each time you use a verbal virus, add a tally mark. My clients have reported that they are astounded at the number of tally marks found on their papers. Keeping track of your verbal virus utterances in this way does two things. One, it increases your awareness of the behavior, and two, it begins to decrease the behavior because it has been brought to the forefront of your mind. Clients have reported that this activity has not only increased their awareness but has also been a good intervention for modifying it.

3. Find support.

Get support from a trusted friend or colleague who can give you a signal or monitor every time you use a verbal virus. My former clients have commented that eliciting support in increasing their awareness was a helpful experience.

4. Rephrase it.

When you catch yourself using a verbal virus try to repeat or paraphrase your statement without the damaging verbal virus. Rephrasing your statement will help reinforce your awareness, and the act of repeating will allow you to distinguish the behavior.

5. Use a planned carrier phrase.

Verbal viruses tend to appear between new thoughts. Often someone will say “um” before launching into a new idea. One approach to eliminating verbal viruses is to transition into your next thought using a carrier phrase. A carrier phrase is a planned word or phrase that can be used as a bridge to transition to your next idea. Vary the carrier phrases or you will have a new verbal virus. Listed below are examples of carrier phrases for consideration:

  • Well
  • Actually
  • As a matter of fact
  • In addition to
  • By the way
  • Before we move on

Often verbal filler words are used as an immediate response to a question. Someone will ask something, and before the speaker provides information the word, he or she says, “Um.” Verbal viruses appear automatically as filler while the speaker arranges his or her thoughts. To combat this, plan carrier phrases in advance that will transition you to answer the question without an unnecessary filler word. Examples are:

  • That is a timely, thoughtful, or good question.
  • That is an interesting point or interesting point of view.
  • I like where you are going with your thought.
  • You seem to have some good background knowledge or experience.
  • To be sure I understand, your question is . . .

You can also paraphrase the question back to the group and then respond.

It is helpful if you are with a group of people to repeat the question. It is highly possible that while you are in the act of repeating the question, you will prepare yourself to move forward with your response without the verbal virus.

Predicting questions and planning a response in advance will help with that sudden urge to use a filler word before providing an answer. If you are going to speak on a topic or lead a meeting, chances are you can predict questions someone may want to ask. A good planning strategy is to predict three to five questions that may be asked. Planning your responses in advance will allow you to be more fluent with your thoughts and not be thrown off by the question. As an additional benefit, this activity will make you better prepared and increase your confidence.

6. Internal pausing.
When you feel that need to say “um” or another type of verbal virus, resist the urge and replace the filler word with a silent pause. It is perfectly acceptable to have a natural pause between words. Often speakers, especially when nervous, feel that there can never be a pause within statements because the listener will perceive it as an excessive amount of time. Short pauses are very appropriate. Skilled speakers use natural pauses regularly. They help the listener to process and digest information. Short pauses also prevent the speaker from speaking too quickly. Using intentional pauses is an effective strategy for organizing your next thought while maintaining good flow in your speech.

Speaking along the speech stairs will help you coordinate natural pauses and thought organization for improved fluency. Often filler words are caused by a fast rate of speech whereby the words and thoughts are competing to come out. Adding an intentional pause on the speech stairs will help coordinate your speech mechanisms and your thoughts, thus minimizing the likelihood of using a verbal virus.

7. Just say it in your “thought bubble.”
If resisting the urge to say a verbal virus is just too intense (while you are working on trying to eliminate this habit from your speech), then go ahead and say it in your “thought bubble.” Say it to yourself in your head and then verbally continue with your message. This is a win-win situation because you can use your verbal viruses freely, but your listener will never hear them. My clients have commented that this strategy is helpful because it provides an outlet when the urge to use a filler word is strong. Simply say it in your mind, and then move on with your message.

Q

Purchase your Course Bundle. Five Courses for One Price

Course Five Media

Curing Verbal Viruses in Your Speech

After this free lesson you will:

  • Learn the cure for verbal viruses
  • Understand several strategies on how to shape out filler words
  • Speak with clarity and sound fluent which is the number one most important skill for media venues
Q

Purchase your Course Bundle. Five Courses for One Price

Damaging verbal filler words are sounds used in speech such as so, um, like, ya know, stuff, and uh-huh, or noises that come from lip smacking, tongue clicking, or throat clearing that is not necessary for your message. When these types of filler words or noises are used excessively, they become “verbal viruses” since they impair and break down the quality of your message and personal leadership brand. Teenagers commonly speak using verbal viruses. Who wants to discuss important business topics with someone who presents like an adolescent?

Verbal viruses disrupt the flow of speech and distract, cause your listener to work harder to understand, and diminish your level of credibility and professionalism. In the business world, where communication is a key value for leadership, there can be no place for verbal viruses. If you suffer from verbal viruses, don’t be dismayed. The good news is there is a cure.

Q

Purchase your Course Bundle. Five Courses for One Price

Where do Verbal Viruses Come From?

Causes of verbal viruses are nervous behavior, talking too fast, and lack of preparation. Verbal viruses become injected as the speaker is coordinating his or her thoughts. After a while, it becomes a reinforced habit. Some speakers are not even aware they have this habit until someone brings it to their attention.

Fast talkers can be challenged with verbal viruses. When speakers have a lot they want to say or become excited, their thoughts move faster than what their speech articulators can accommodate. As a result, a filler word gets injected into the statement to essentially buy time for the next thought to formulate. Verbal viruses can also be used to stall for time while thoughts are being arranged. It is very easy for this behavior to become habit because it is a natural way for fast talkers to communicate.

Regardless of the cause, verbal viruses are a habit that should be eliminated or significantly reduced. A verbal virus can damage the reputation and limit the credibility of a well-intended speaker, and it serves no purpose in professional conversations.

Speech will never be perfect. Our thoughts and speech mechanisms do not move at the same time. Talking is a fine motor skill. Verbal viruses become distracting when they are consistently used at the beginning of a statement. People get into the habit of starting a thought with a verbal virus. When you are deep in explanation, it is not unusual to connect moving thoughts with an um or some other filler word. Ideally, they should not be used. Verbal viruses are especially noticeable and distracting when used at the beginning of a statement; for example, “So, I called this meeting to discuss.” If you do this, it is worth getting the behavior under control. If you use filler words occasionally to connect a thought, that is okay. The bigger problem is starting every line with so.

Finding a Cure for Verbal Viruses

Before a verbal virus can be reduced, you must first increase your awareness of the behavior and have insight on how frequently it appears in your communication. There are several approaches for facilitating insight into and awareness of this behavior.

1. Identify your personal filler words.

Before generating your plan for reducing your verbal viruses, it is important that you take a moment to realize whether it is due to a nervous behavior or has become a reinforced habit. In your speech notebook, reserve a page for this exercise, and write down what specific verbal filler words and/or physical behaviors such as lip smacking you use that interfere with your speech. In addition, identify the specific situations when they happen. Do they occur all the time? Are they prevalent in specific situations such as speaking to an authority figure, specific individual, or group? Once you have awareness of the behaviors, you are well on the way toward your verbal viruses being cured.

When Verbal Viruses Appear:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Keep a tally.

Keeping a tally is an excellent approach to increasing your awareness of verbal viruses. My clients are very successful with this technique. To increase your awareness and to break the verbal virus habit, write the date of each day for the next two or three weeks on separate Post-it notes or pieces of scratch paper. Each time you use a verbal virus, add a tally mark. My clients have reported that they are astounded at the number of tally marks found on their papers. Keeping track of your verbal virus utterances in this way does two things. One, it increases your awareness of the behavior, and two, it begins to decrease the behavior because it has been brought to the forefront of your mind. Clients have reported that this activity has not only increased their awareness but has also been a good intervention for modifying it.

3. Find support.

Get support from a trusted friend or colleague who can give you a signal or monitor every time you use a verbal virus. My former clients have commented that eliciting support in increasing their awareness was a helpful experience.

4. Rephrase it.

When you catch yourself using a verbal virus try to repeat or paraphrase your statement without the damaging verbal virus. Rephrasing your statement will help reinforce your awareness, and the act of repeating will allow you to distinguish the behavior.

5. Use a planned carrier phrase.

Verbal viruses tend to appear between new thoughts. Often someone will say “um” before launching into a new idea. One approach to eliminating verbal viruses is to transition into your next thought using a carrier phrase. A carrier phrase is a planned word or phrase that can be used as a bridge to transition to your next idea. Vary the carrier phrases or you will have a new verbal virus. Listed below are examples of carrier phrases for consideration:

  • Well
  • Actually
  • As a matter of fact
  • In addition to
  • By the way
  • Before we move on

Often verbal filler words are used as an immediate response to a question. Someone will ask something, and before the speaker provides information the word, he or she says, “Um.” Verbal viruses appear automatically as filler while the speaker arranges his or her thoughts. To combat this, plan carrier phrases in advance that will transition you to answer the question without an unnecessary filler word. Examples are:

  • That is a timely, thoughtful, or good question.
  • That is an interesting point or interesting point of view.
  • I like where you are going with your thought.
  • You seem to have some good background knowledge or experience.
  • To be sure I understand, your question is . . .

You can also paraphrase the question back to the group and then respond.

It is helpful if you are with a group of people to repeat the question. It is highly possible that while you are in the act of repeating the question, you will prepare yourself to move forward with your response without the verbal virus.

Predicting questions and planning a response in advance will help with that sudden urge to use a filler word before providing an answer. If you are going to speak on a topic or lead a meeting, chances are you can predict questions someone may want to ask. A good planning strategy is to predict three to five questions that may be asked. Planning your responses in advance will allow you to be more fluent with your thoughts and not be thrown off by the question. As an additional benefit, this activity will make you better prepared and increase your confidence.

6. Internal pausing.
When you feel that need to say “um” or another type of verbal virus, resist the urge and replace the filler word with a silent pause. It is perfectly acceptable to have a natural pause between words. Often speakers, especially when nervous, feel that there can never be a pause within statements because the listener will perceive it as an excessive amount of time. Short pauses are very appropriate. Skilled speakers use natural pauses regularly. They help the listener to process and digest information. Short pauses also prevent the speaker from speaking too quickly. Using intentional pauses is an effective strategy for organizing your next thought while maintaining good flow in your speech.

Speaking along the speech stairs will help you coordinate natural pauses and thought organization for improved fluency. Often filler words are caused by a fast rate of speech whereby the words and thoughts are competing to come out. Adding an intentional pause on the speech stairs will help coordinate your speech mechanisms and your thoughts, thus minimizing the likelihood of using a verbal virus.

7. Just say it in your “thought bubble.”
If resisting the urge to say a verbal virus is just too intense (while you are working on trying to eliminate this habit from your speech), then go ahead and say it in your “thought bubble.” Say it to yourself in your head and then verbally continue with your message. This is a win-win situation because you can use your verbal viruses freely, but your listener will never hear them. My clients have commented that this strategy is helpful because it provides an outlet when the urge to use a filler word is strong. Simply say it in your mind, and then move on with your message.

Q

Purchase your Course Bundle. Five Courses for One Price