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How do people perceive your speech?

Our speech can affect how we are perceived.  Three patterns that may negatively influence how others regard us are:

  1. Use of filler words. 
  2. Sloppy pronunciation.
  3. Speed Talking.

Filler Words:

Filler words or non-words include:  um, ah, and, like, ok, you know.  Everyone uses filler words, but it is the overuse that affects how we are perceived. We use filler words to give us time to formulate our next sentence or thought.   Four better strategies:

  • Pause, take a breath.
  • Review your notes before the event.
  • Practice your presentation.
  • Get a good night sleep. 

Listeners become distracted when they hear too many filler words and start hoping for the speaker to end rather than concentrating on the content.

Sloppy Pronunciation:

Sloppy pronunciation includes reducing the number of syllables in a word, omitting endings and using regional pronunciation patterns.  Polish your pronunciation so that it reflects your skills and education.

Below are five common words that are often articulated incorrectly. 

  • Business:  say “bizness” not “bidness.”
  • Candidate:  say candidate not “cannidate.”
  • Escape:  say escape not “excape.”
  • Espresso:  say espresso not “expresso.”
  • Probably:  say probably not “probly” or “prolly.”

Do you use any of these pronunciations?  I admit I have said, “expresso.”

Speed Talking

Speed talking—we have all heard young people and colleagues that talk fast.  It is challenging to attend and process all the information when listening to a “speed talker.” Slower speech and pausing will help your listener retain the message so you will not need to tell them again.   Slow down by:

  • Taking a deep breath before you start to speak.
  • Pausing at the end of sentences.
  • Pausing when you are listing steps or details.