How Are You Perceived? - Tips to Stop Tics

This is Part 3 in the “How Are You Perceived?” Series.

This is also known as, “How do I stop saying ‘um’?”

As I mentioned in “The Unfiltered You,” filming yourself is a great way to improve your presentation skills. This allows you to become aware of your bad habits or “tics.”

Perhaps by filming yourself, you discovered you use filler words like “uh,” “um,” or “like” too often or are a victim of upspeak: That Valley Girl way of ending every sentence as if it were a question.

Becoming aware of these tics is half the battle, but what is the second half? Immediate feedback.

This means having someone watch you practice a speech and asking them to clap their hands every time they hear or see one of your tics. Say “like” and they’ll clap. Rock back and forth on your feet: That’s another clap. This is a quick and effective way to train your mind to avoid those unconscious-yet-distracting behaviors.

If you are practicing your speech alone, wrap a rubber band around your wrist. Every time you find yourself engaging in a tic, give yourself a little snap.

In addition to getting immediate feedback, there is much to say for speaking slower and allowing more silence in your speech. You’d be amazed at what a difference a few pauses and breaths can make when addressing an audience.

My last piece of advice for tics is to give yourself a break – and don’t focus on eliminating the fillers or mindless gestures altogether. Even the master interviewer Terry Gross ekes out a few “ahs” or “ums.” A few is okay – you just don’t want to be distracting.

Getting rid of tics is difficult and may take a while. By being self-aware and practicing your presentations with attentive friends, you’ll be confidently speaking in no time.

For more advice, see:

The Unfiltered You
Dress to Present