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Chapter 23. Speaking Off-the-Cuff > Nowhere to Hide: Question-and-Answer Sessio... - Pg. 194

Speaking Off-the-Cuff To get good at spontaneous speech-making, practice, practice some more, and keep on practicing. 194 What you're probably really saying: Like...uh...a long time ago, like maybe fourscore and seven years ago, you know. Our fathers... em...made, you know, on this like place like a continent a new nation...uh...conceived in, you know, like liberty and...uh...and dedicated to the like idea that, but I don't want to forget like women, like they are really important too because they make up over half the popu- lation, you know, are like sort of like created equal. Of course, this is an exaggeration--but it's not as exaggerated as we'd like to think. Even the most highly trained newscasters sometimes slip into dead-air fillers such as "uh," "eh," and "like"--espe- cially when the pressure's on. You may be one of the very fortunate few who are able to speak lucid, well-formed sentences without any advance preparation--if so, you're reading this chapter for pleasure. Most of us, however, need a little help. Audiences will indulge you in a certain amount of incoherence, but it must be kept to a minimum. Try these suggestions for speaking more smoothly: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Practice impromptu speaking until you feel more comfortable with it. Repeat tricky phrases, names, and words until you have them down. Work at eliminating distracting, "throat-clearing" phrases such as "uh" and "em." Get rid of intrusive words and phrases such as "like," "you see," and "you know." Tape-record yourself to monitor your progress. Remember that pauses punctuate thought. Just as commas, semicolons, and periods separate written words into thought groups, so