Using The Right Language When Talking To Customers, Superiors

Business professionals are expected to give presentations more than ever today. These presentations may be before a small or large group of people.

According to Mike Sawchuk, president of Sawchuk Consulting, who works with these business professionals helping them refine their presentation skills, the big problem is that many use words like "ah," "um," and "you know" in their talks.

"These are filler words," says Sawchuk. "We typically say about one a minute, but before an audience, we may use five every minute, that's about 12 per second."

Sawchuk says using this many filler words can have serious business ramifications. For instance:

• They are distracting. Soon the listener pays more attention to how many filler words you use than what you are actually saying.

• Listeners think you are nervous. "Listeners want you [to be] calm and commanding. They want to believe in you and what you have to say. You lose this with excessive filler words."

• Your personality does not come through. "You may be the easiest going person in the room. But using filler words every 12 seconds covers up who you really are."

• They tune you out. Eventually, listeners stop listening and look forward to your talk coming to an end.

So, how do we end this filler word problem? Because filler words are typically the result of being nervous before an audience, Sawchuk offers the following recommendations:

• Record your presentation and listen to yourself talk; become aware of how often you use filler words. This makes you more aware of them.

• Give your presentation before someone else and have them monitor your use of filler words; again, this makes you cognizant of them.

• At the podium, take a few minutes before you begin talking to gather your notes, your thoughts, and be comfortable.

• Look for a friendly face in the room and start your presentation looking at that person.

"And most importantly, be prepared, know your stuff," says Sawchuk. "This will make you feel assertive and in command. The filler words will soon disappear."