Replacing ‘uh’ With ‘and’

Most public speaking encourages you to replace uh with and. Rather than pause and not know what to say, pause and continue your thought. This works well in formulated conversations with casual and friendly environments. It works well in presentations when moving through a deck. But what about professional settings? In meetings and formal reviews? Uh very often doesn’t lead to an and as sometimes we truly don’t know what we are about to say. 52 weeks of UX has a recent post on designer’s lying. Not to discuss on the truthfulness of what is said, designers certainly create their own answers.

This isn’t a new thought. But it certainly strikes home. Some of the designers I work with compliment me on my speaking skills. I am told I can explain most problems and if I can only remove the ‘uh’s from my speech I would be a goldmine. But I can’t, or havent found how to yet. Though I do hear myself say them. I find myself saying uh when I am rambling, fishing for an answer. So what does that mean? Instead of uh don’t say and; instead of uh say nothing. Find a way to close the current statement and leave the conversation open. Uh is a way to force the conversation along, but remember exactly that. It is a conversation and has two sides, two participants. Leave it open for someone else to chime in and probe further. Often I stumble because I am uncertain if I am answering someone’s questions. So pause and ask if you are on mark. Taking those few seconds is important if not invaluable in professional settings. It’s ok not to know an answer, and it’s ok to pause seek feedback. I need to remember both are valid. And while I’m doing that reflect on your speaking nuances and challenge yourself. While you are at it, challenge me when I stumble.

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