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Everyone has a reputation as a speaker. Yes, even you. Even if you don’t make a living presenting, you have a reputation as a speaker based on your ability to share a concise and clear message with your audience. But even if you’re not the best presenter, a simple technique can help you improve your speaking ability. Do you find yourself saying “um,” “basically,” or “like” when you talk to others? This is called “weak language,” and it can bring down your presentations and conversations. "Every sound, syllable, or noise that comes out of our mouth either helps our message or hurts our message," said Tim Fortescue, a presentation coach at Own The Room, a communication skills training company. "There's nothing in the middle." So, the one of the most effective things you can do to change your speaking habits for the better is to eliminate this weak language. Obviously, this is easier said than done. However, there’s a little trick you can use that will help you ditch these filler words: pause. Learn how to pause when you’re talking to others. If you can’t think of what to say next, instead of saying “um,” don’t say anything. Take the pause. Relax. Don’t be afraid of the silence. If you want to start incorporating this habit, the first thing to do is identify what your “word” is when you speak. Is it “like’? Or “so”? Or “um”? What is it? Understanding what your “word” is will make you more aware of when you use it. And being aware of when you use that word will allow you to stop, relax, and plan about your next thought. It will allow you to pause. If you can do this for four days, you’ll build better habits and become a better speaker. What's your reputation as a speaker? Want to increase your communication skills? Check out our course "How To Improve Your Communication Skills At Work" to become a better communicator and learn how to work with others more effectively.

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Today’s Work It Daily Challenge is to stop saying “um” when you’re speaking. Oh, the innocent old “um.” It creeps into your speech without your knowledge and haunts you when you give a presentation. Filler words like “um” and “like” are communication crutches that we all use once and awhile. Today, we’re going to help you break the habit! There are several things that can trigger filler words like “um” and “like,” including nervousness, lack of confidence, poor speaking habits, and so on. Most of us don’t even hear ourselves saying these words. However, if you’re having a conversation with someone or leading a big presentation, those filler words can be very apparent - even annoying - to others. Accidentally saying “um” and “like” can make others think that you aren’t confident in what you’re saying or can’t articulate your thoughts. Analyze your speaking habits. When do you use filler words the most? What filler words do you use? Why do you feel you need to use them? Do you feel nervous? Do you need a transition word? Do you just need time to formulate a thought? Understanding the when, what, and why will allow you to be more aware of your communication habits. Today, be hyper-aware of what you’re saying to others. Notice when you say “um,” “like,” or other filler words. If you feel like you need to use one of these words, take a pause and formulate your next thought in your head. If you can train yourself to stop saying “um” when you’re speaking, you’ll be a more confident presenter and communicator. What are your tricks for killing filler words? What did you do to stop saying “um” when you’re speaking? Tell us! Related Posts: Give Yourself Decision Deadlines Challenge: Perform One Random Act Of Kindness Today Challenge: Wake Up 30 Minutes Earlier

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Communication in the workplace can take many forms, so you’ll need to determine what the accepted norms are for your employer. For example, some teams have weekly meetings to check on everyone’s progress and chat about any issues that have come up during the prior week. Some teams work remotely and only communicate via email and phone. That's why it's important to have good communication skills - especially as a young professional. RELATED: Need some career advice? Watch these tutorials! Whatever type of communication you are using, make sure you are participating in the discussion, asking questions where necessary and providing responses when asked. No matter what, make sure your communication is professional in its tone. What you say is a huge reflection on you, so make sure you think before you speak. No one expects you to know all the answers, so freely admit if you’re not sure about something and offer to get back to the person once you have more information. If you’re able to establish credibility early in your career, you will have a much easier time going forward. Tell the truth and be sincere. You will quickly earn your co-workers’ and managers’ trust if you exhibit these qualities. In many workplaces and career fields, there is an expectation you will work with other people on projects during the course of your employment. It’s sometimes tough to get along with varying personalities and that is precisely why clear communication is so important. Take time to listen to other people’s points of view. You may not always agree, but it’s likely you can learn something new by being open to other perspectives. As a young professional, you will be expected to communicate with co-workers, your manager, and possibly more senior leaders within the organization. Many colleges require public speaking courses and a basic introductory communications class to better prepare students for the workplace, but sometimes this isn’t quite enough. If you need help finding your voice and speaking in front of others, practice does help. There are also organizations like Toastmasters International that coach professionals in their presentation abilities. Also, remember that a big part of communication is receiving a message. Young professionals need to be open to receiving direction and feedback from co-workers and managers within the organization. Most seasoned professionals can tell you they have been on the receiving end of criticism at some point in their careers. Listen to the feedback and then take action to improve upon whatever was cited in the discussion as an area for improvement. No one is perfect, so don’t expect to know everything. Take initiative to correct the issue going forward and learn from the experience. This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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