how to be a confident public speaker

Get Rid of UMs, ERRs and Verbal Tics – How to be a Confident Public Speaker

April 20, 2019

How To Be A Confident Public Speaker – Get Rid of Umms and Errs

If your talks are full of verbal tics, like ‘UMM’ ‘ERR’ and ‘Y’know’ then you have a problem.

But these verbal tics can be cured.

Why is this important?  Because if you do not address this, you will not be seen as a confident public speaker and you are limiting your career success.

If you have these verbal tics you are seen as less certain, less impressive and less competent.

The good news is that you can cure yourself of ums and errs.  Without them, you will look more confident and you will feel like a confident public speaker.

With our clients, we use a step-by-step method to get rid of ums and errs.  It works like this:


STEP 1 – Get Rid Of Umms and Errs – Make A Commitment

This process does not take long, but it can be frustrating. 

If you really want to succeed, then you need to be sure you are ready to put in the time and the effort needed.


STEP 2 – Get Rid Of Umms and Errs – Find A Friend

And take your friend into a a room where you can work.

Get a pencil and a glass.  Now you are ready to start.


STEP 3 – Get Rid Of Umms and Errs – Start Your Talk

Start your talk from the beginning. 

As you speak listen to yourself.

Aim to replace every ‘um’ or ‘err’ with a pause. 

This will be challenging – and your performance will be terrible – but that does not matter (at this stage).


STEP 4 – Get Rid Of Umms and Errs – Avoid any Pings

Ask your friend to listen to your talk and, every time they hear a significant um or err, they are to tap on the glass.

You job is to avoid the pings.

If you hear a ping, start your talk again.


STEP 5 – Be a confident public speaker – Keep at it. 

For many people, about 5 minutes of this exercise is enough to start the process of getting rid of verbal tics.

Try the exercise again 2 or 3 times during a week.  And in any communication during the week – eg talks, meetings, phone calls, aim to eliminate these verbal tics.  Be persistent – it can be frustrating.

It could well be that within a week, you will have cured yourself of this bad habit.  As a result, you will sound more confident and impressive as a public speaker.


We can help you become a confident public speaker

Alternatively, we can help you become a more confident public speaker.  Not only can we help you get rid of umms and errs, we can craft your words, structure your talks and polish your performance.  We can do this face to face or over Skype.

If you want help to be a more confident public speaker, contact Louise Angus, client services director at Benjamin Ball Associates on +44 20 7018 0922.

Contact Us Now



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Gerry Bastable  Director, Blast Films

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To Learn More…

Contact our
Client Services Director
Louise Angus
+44 (0)20 7018 0922