Do you have a ton of ‘ums' and ‘ahs' when you speak?
When you're speaking to a client or presenting your product or service, do you have a ton of ‘ums' and ‘ahs'?
Do you find it frustrating, but don't know how to get rid of that irritation? And if you're recording an event, a whole bunch of ‘ums' and ‘ahs' can cause a major headache in editing, plus push up editing time and frustration levels. So how can you get rid of all your ‘ums' and ‘ahs' in under 15 minutes?
In this episode Sean talks about
Part 1: How to get rid of ‘ums' and ‘ahs' when podcasting or speaking in under 15 minutes
Part 2: The sound of spit and how to get rid of it
Part 3: Why you need variation in your voice
“This transcript hasn’t been checked for typos, so you may well find some. If you do, let us know and we’ll be sure to fix them.”
This is The Three Month Vacation, I'm Sean D'Souza.
We've been podcasting since around November of 2014. One of the things that I never seem to cover is anything to do with podcasts. That's not on purpose, it's just something that I've never covered. Today I'm going to have this very short podcast, no stories, just a little technique that will help you as you're going about creating audio or even speaking in public.
Little Technique To Help Creating Audio
There are a few things that we do when we're recording podcasts that are very frustrating. The first thing that we do is we cannot help it and we go um, uh, um. These ums and uhs seem to infiltrate our speech whether it's in a podcast or in an interview or just presenting to your client. On podcasts, you also get the sound of spit, yes? Moisture in your mouth. It sounds like [chump chump 00:01:06], like that. It's very frustrating for you, not so much for the listener. After awhile even listeners start to tune in to that spit kind of sound. How do we get rid of that?
Finally the third thing about the podcast is just this variation in your voice. It's very easy to start recording and forget that there's an audience out there. You're never speaking to an audience, you're always speaking to one person and this is the mistake that we make. These are the three glitches that we make when we're podcasting. Today I'm going to get rid of all three of them.
How to get rid of ‘ums' when podcasting or speaking
Let's start off with getting rid of all the um and the uhs that we have when we are podcasting or speaking to anyone at all. It doesn't matter whether you use a PC or a Mac, you've seen that spinning ball on your computer haven't you? When the computer's trying to access something, it's going through that, hey let's get to this something. You can't do anything and you're just sitting there waiting for it to do it's thing before you can continue working.
That's approximately what your brain is doing, but at a much higher speed. It's a better processor, your brain. What it's doing is it's trying to access the information. Every time a speaker says um or ah or like, that's approximately what they're doing. They're accessing their database. How do you stop it? At all points in time, especially if you're not reading off the screen, like right now I'm not reading off the screen. My brain has to work out what I'm going to say next and yet there are no ums or likes or ahs coming out.
The reason is, I'm pausing. I could say “Um what we need to do next is um” or I could say, “So … what we need to do next is …” It's a little break. You're noticing it now because I'm bringing it to your attention. That's all I do. Whenever I'm making a presentation, whether it's on stage or it's a webinar or any kind of recording, I'm conscious about the ums and the pauses. All I do is stop speaking. Just let your brain access the information it needs and let a natural pause come in.
Now if your podcast is anything like this podcast, then there will be music in the background, and sometimes not even music in the background, but a lot of music, and the pause won't be noticeable. If you're speaking in public, it's critical to get rid of the ums. If you're doing a recording like this, it's a nuisance to remove all the ums.
When I started out many years ago, when we did our first workshop in Los Angeles in 2004, there were ums and ahs all over the place. The more tired I got, the more ums and ahs just popped up out of the woodwork. I just had to learn to pause. I'm not saying that in a live workshop, which lasts two or three days, you're not going to get ums and ahs. It's just that you can reduce it dramatically. In a podcast or a speech like this where you're nice and fresh, you can eliminate it completely. Just practice that for 15 minutes. Just pause whenever you think you should be saying an um and sooner or later you get rid of all the ums and the ahs. If one or two creep in, that's easy to edit.
The second factor that we are dealing with when recording podcast is this sound of moisture in your mouth.
Whenever you sit down to do an interview, often you'll find that the person on the other end of the line will say hey wait I'm going to get a glass of water. That's because they want to keep their mouths nice and moist. Your voice doesn't crack and it's a really good idea, especially if you're on a call for maybe an hour, like later today I'm on a call for an hour and a glass of water really helps.
When you're doing something like a recording, you're very close to the mike. Every little [click click 00:05:29] sound just clicks in as one more click. It's very frustrating for you. What I tend to do is I record in short bursts. I'll keep my mouth very dry, which is totally counter intuitive. I'll keep it extremely dry, actually try to suck out all the moisture, and then I'll record in short bursts. One sentence, two three sentences at a time and then I'll stop and then continue.
It's funny but if you concentrate on it, you will find that the moisture doesn't enter your mouth at all. You can go for several sentences, as I'm doing right now. I haven't really stopped, even though you don't know, the tape is just rolling. The funny thing is that if you train yourself to speak for long periods without having to access any moisture in your mouth, you will find that you can speak for quite a long time without any of those clicks that you get from the moisture in your mouth. The trick is to just keep it dry. That's the trick I use rather than moisten it. The moment I get access to water, I'm in trouble again.
This is not foolproof. Obviously some of the clicks are going to escape and they're going to get on tape, but it doesn't matter. You can go and edit it. You just have to do a lot less editing and you're more aware of the clicking sound.
The third and final issue is one of speaking to an audience.
Often when we get in front of the mike, we think that we have the whole audience listening in. Good presenters and people who have been on radio know that you're always speaking to a single person. When you're speaking on stage, you have lights in front of you and often you can't see much. You can't see more than a few people in the front row. What you've got to do is start to pick on one or two people in the audience and speak to them as if you were having a conversation with them.
The same thing applies to the podcast. When you start to speak as if you're speaking to an audience, it becomes less of a discussion, a conversation. Think of it more as someone sitting in the same room with you or at a café. Always use the word you.
The second thing that we forget is that we have to change our tone, our pitch, our speed. If you listen to this podcast you will notice that I will suddenly speak quickly and then really slow down. In real life we have variations. We speak quickly or slowly, we get all excited and go louder and then go really quiet. You can do this on stage, you can do this in your podcast, you can do this in your presentation. You have to be aware of it. You have to have this space or this sudden movement through it, and then it becomes like a conversation and it's no longer this single paced monotone podcast where you're speaking to an audience.
One last tip. When you're recording audio, you want to smile. When you smile, I don't know, something in your voice changes. When I announce this is The Three Month Vacation, I'm smiling. You can feel that smile. You can't see me, but you can feel that smile. Smiling when you're speaking- not all the time, just some of the time- the audience figures it out. I don't know how.
That's pretty much it for this podcast. Three things that we covered. Let's do a quick summary. The first thing that we did was the ums and ahs. It's very simple to get rid of the ums and ahs. All you have to do is pause. It sounds like a crazy long pause, but it doesn't matter. Just pause. It's fine.
The second thing is this moisture in your mouth which causes all these clicks.
The way to do that is not to have water around, or at least to keep speaking, don't worry about your mouth getting dry, and if you get some clicks in, you can go and edit them later. Anyway, the clicks seem to come just before you start speaking or just after, so start speaking, leave a little gap, and then continue speaking. You'll be able to edit out those clicks quite easily.
Finally remember you're not speaking to an audience. You're always speaking to one person, maybe two people. You're always using the word you. It's a good idea to vary your tone. When you press the pause button more often, the tone changes automatically. When you come back again, your tone has changed just a little bit. Because all of my recordings are done without a script, I have to hit the pause a lot of times. That's why you'll find the tone shifting a lot. I'm also conscious of the fact that sometimes I'm slowing down and sometimes I'm going really fast. Sometimes you go softer and sometimes you get more excited and you go a little louder. All of that creates for this variation that you find in normal every day speech. That makes it so much better to listen to a podcast.
There you go.
Finally some tips on podcasting. What's the one thing that you can do today?
The one thing that you can do today is to put these gaps. It doesn't matter where you speak, you're going to have the ums and ahs come in because that's how we access the database in our brains. If you just put in these pauses just like I'm doing right now and train yourself to do it, you'll find fewer ums and ahs on a regular basis.
Another trick is to make sure that you have examples. For instance I will get a lot of ums and ahs when I'm doing an interview and I'm trying to work out some examples to give in that interview. If I'm talking about The Brain Audit, I need to have examples of the problem and of the solution. I need to have examples of the objections. When the person asks me about the problem or the solution, my brain is trying to access the examples and then I go um and ah. That's another way to avoid it when you're in a live call, when you're in a live interview. To have the examples prepared in advance.
This is podcast number 72. That's at psychotactics.com/72 where you can get the transcript and the audio. You're listening to this podcast while we're in Amsterdam. It's going to be cold and freezing in Amsterdam. This podcast is being recorded while we're still in Oakland and it's warm and sunny out there.
We're going through the United States, Amsterdam, Morocco, Singapore, before we get back to New Zealand. It's going to be a long trip, a month away, and we've got to have everything cued up in advance. All the podcasts have been cued up and all the newsletters and all the 500bc newsletters, which is our membership site. That's a lot of work, but once we're done with that work we can go on vacation. We don't have to check email, we don't have to do any of that stuff.
If you have any more questions on podcasting, or you have tips on podcasting, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm also on Twitter @seandsouza and on Facebook at Sean D'Souza. Bye for now.
Still reading? Don't miss—Why A Relaxed Brain Works Faster Than A Tired Brain