Mark Matteson publishes his Sparking Success EZine Street newsletter on the first Wednesday of every month. The next newsletter will go out on June 5, 2013
Um, Ya' Know, and Uh, Like...
Everyone is in sales. Does that word make you uncomfortable? Okay, how about influence? Everyone is in the influence business. We get one chance to make a great first impression.
I recently had a teleconference with a young woman who was trying to sell me on her services. As I asked her hard questions ("What does that mean to me?" and "Can you provide me with three names of people who have used your services?"), she began to use "um" in every sentence. She said it three times in a row in one sentence. Is "um" even a word? What does it mean? According to Webster's Dictionary, it means: A word used to express doubt or uncertainty or to fill a pause when hesitating in speaking; a representation of a common sound made when hesitating in speech.
We all know people who use these bridge words or phrases: um, ya' know, and uh, or like. I don't know about you, but when I hear these annoying sounds, they are like fingernails on a chalkboard. One fellow I know said "ya' know" 29 times in a five-minute talk. Yes, I was counting. His habit drove me to distraction. After a time, that is all I heard. His message was lost in sea of "ya' know"! It shattered my confidence in him. I refer to him as Ya' Know Joe. Of course, there is also Ursulla Um, Angus And Uh and Like Larry. Their habit is holding them back from advancing in their careers; it is like an emergency brake that's on when you are trying to drive fast. What to do?
Twenty years ago, I stumbled on a book in a used bookstore entitled Write Better, Speak Better by Readers Digest. It's a little 727-page hardcover tome. I devoured it. It covered:
- How use your voice
- How to speak better
- How to write better
- Tools of the trade
It was, quite simply, a revelation. Might I remind you, I flunked high school English. This book redeemed me. It was the foundation upon which I built my business of speaking and writing.
As I thought about the things I have done for the last twenty years, I determined there were seven specific things I did to change how I write and speak. I hope they help you make a better first impression and sell more.
- Develop a burning desire to improve your communication skills. All meaningful achievement begins with desire. I call it Inspirational Dissatisfaction. What do you need to STOP doing?
- What do you need to START doing? Learn the value of what you offer. What are the reasons your product or service is of value to your prospects? Learn the benefits of what you sell. The Six Magic Words of Influence are "What That Means to Them Is..."
- Ask a friend or peer to monitor your speech and writing for a few weeks. Record a five-minute talk and ask yourself, "What bridge words or phrases do I use that create doubt or uncertainty in my listeners?" Count them.
- Expand your vocabulary. Twenty years ago, I invested in an audio program called Vocab by Bergen Evans. I learned 500 new words in 30 days. I read the New York Times every Sunday. When I heard or read words I did not know, I looked them up and wrote down their meanings and reviewed them until I could use them in a sentence. See if you know the meaning of these 10 words: succinct, anathema, deplorable, rigorous, cacophony, aberration, polyglot, misanthrope, magnanimous, benediction. Earl Nightingale said, "Your vocabulary is the one thing you cannot hide except by silence."
- Silence is golden. It's okay not to fill up every second with sounds. Someone once said, "It's the silence between the notes that makes the music." When a comedian pauses, it's audience's job to laugh. Comedy is a dialogue.
- Attend Toastmasters on a weekly basis for a year. It is a group of committed businesspeople who want to improve their speaking skills, vocabulary, and presentation skills. There you'll find a loving, caring environment with a plethora of resources at your disposal. They will help you eliminate your bridge words, ya' know, without you noticing you have changed!
- Slow down. It isn't a race. Be deliberate in your delivery. Use "commas" in your speech. Think twice, speak once. Smile. Wait. Deliver.
Each of us has one chance to make a great first impression. Have you seen the film True Grit with Jeff Bridges? The 14-year-old protagonist is a young girl from Arkansas with great determination, an extensive vocabulary, and courage. She will not be denied. Her vocabulary belied her age. Matt Damon's character eventually comes to respect her and says as much later in the film.
If you commit to these seven ideas for the next 90 days, you will, like, grow, um increase your income, and uh make a great first impression, and ya' know people will want to spend time with you-no really!
|Book of the Month |
Write better, Speak better
by Readers Digest Association
"Your verbal ability is among the most important skills you possess. Throughout your life, in all kinds of situations from the classroom to the boardroom, people form their opinions of you on the basis of how you speak and write. Understanding how to use words effectively can bring you increased confidence, pave your way to overwhelming success in school, business and your social life; in every area where communication is important."
Think of this book as a foundation for an extraordinary mansion: bricks upon which you build your foundation and future success. The juice is worth the squeeze.
Mark Matteson gives over 75 presentations each year. Book him now to secure the inspiring message that will spark your group's success! To watch Mark's demo video, go to: www.sparkingsuccess.net. Call 206.697.0454 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.