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Chapter 5. Say It Right—Write It Right > When the Communication Is in Writing - Pg. 49

Say It Right--Write It Right 49 Watch out for word-whiskers, those extra sounds, words, or phrases such as "er," "uh-huh," "y'know," and other extraneous noises. I once clocked a speaker who interjected "er" 12 times in five minutes. This is very distracting to your audience. Listen to yourself and shave off those "whiskers." Here are some tips on the most common problems speakers experience and how to deal with them: · Mumbling.The speaker swallows word endings, making it difficult to figure out what is said. This is easily overcome. Don't speak with a half-opened mouth. Open your lips fully when talking. Try practicing this in front of a mirror. It won't take long to correct this. · Speaking too fast or too slow.Do you race ahead? Whoa! Give people a chance to absorb what you're saying. Or do you poke along? Your audience will jump ahead of you, anticipating what they think you are going to say. Keep speaking too slowly and you'll put them to sleep. Practice your talk. Time it. A good pace is between 130 and 150 words per minute. And don't forget to slow down when you want to make a point, and speed up to generate excitement. · Speaking in a monotone.This is another sleep inducer. Modulate your voice. Vary volume, pitch, and pace. · Standing like a statue.Use gestures to emphasize points. · Mispronouncing words.If you're not sure of the pronunciation, look it up. If it's a person's name, ask that person what the correct pronunciation is. · Failing to observe and react to audience.Are the troops getting restless? Pause. Change pace, introduce an interesting anecdote to get them back. · Listen to your voice.We don't hear ourselves as others hear us. When we talk, perhaps our ears are too close to our mouths or our brains are too busy concentrating on the talking to pay attention to the hearing. Once you know your speech weaknesses, you can work on correcting them.