One of the easiest ways to improve the clarity of your speech is to slow down and use pauses.
In our fast-paced world, many of us have come to feel uncomfortable with silence. It’s like we’re some kind of failures if we can’t fill every moment with some kind of noise. So we develop bad habits, shoving in fillers at every opportunity… um… uh.. you know, right?
Try to become more comfortable with silence. When you do, you’ll find that your speech will be much better received and your messages will be better understood.
Some appropriate places to use pauses are:
1. as spoken punctuation — pause at commas, full stops and so on
2. when changing topics as a warning to listeners that you are now moving on
3. to get attention — have you ever noticed how when a room suddenly goes silent, everyone looks up?
4. to build excitement — nothing creates a better cliff-hanger moment than a long pause
So next time you want to say um or uh, simply stop, collect your thoughts and then speak when you’re ready. Your audience will be dying to hear your next words!