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The Verbal Pause-Busting Cheat Sheet

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Do the “Ums,” “Uhs,” and “Ahs” got your tongue? It is natural to pause when you speak — it’s when you breathe. What’s not natural is to fill the silent pause with um, ah, uh, you know and other sounds. These verbal pauses are distracting and muddle what you are trying to say. Here’s how to eliminate them:

  • Keep breathing. Maintain low natural breathing.
  • Fill the silence with a gesture and/or smile.
  • Use shorter sentences.
  • Eliminate the reasons for audible pauses, which include lack of familiarity with the topic, discomfort with silence, nervousness, habit or shallow breathing.
  • Practice beforehand. Record yourself and listen for your favorite verbal pause fillers.

The ums, ahs, uhs and you knows are warning signs that you need to breathe. When you run out of oxygen and your brain starts feeding unintelligible words to your mouth, stop talking and start breathing!

More marketing tips from Sharon Sayler.

Sharon Sayler is a certified group dynamics and behavioral coach and author of “What Your Body Says (And How to Master the Message): Inspire, Influence, Build Trust, and Create Lasting Business Relationships” (