Ummmmmm Ahhhhhhh

By Linda Sherwin / March 17, 2019

That moment when you can’t think of what it is you want to say and so you fill the empty space with “ummmmms” and “ahhhhhs”!

What happens?

In most cases, it’s simply a bad habit. You may not be 100% sure of what you want to say, so while you think of what you are going to say, you fill the air with “ummmmms” and “ahhhhhs.” And you are not the only one! 

There are some people who are speaking publicly at an announcement or a news briefing, and they do it as well – most often when they are speaking without notes or text to read! It seems today that we don’t like dead air! Heaven forbid that there would be silence!

I have to say – to me, it is like fingernails on a chalkboard! I cringe when I hear those “ummmmms” and “ahhhhhs.” In fact, what usually happens, is that I don’t hear what you are saying because I am SO distracted by the “ummmmms” and “ahhhhhs.”

Well, I am here to help you. A tip that I teach my clients. Get your brain up to 10 seconds ahead of your mouth! Sounds crazy but it really works! 

Let me ask you – do you know people who have their mouth ahead of their brain? Perhaps you have done it yourself! This is working it the opposite way!

It’s simply a way to begin to practice stopping to think about what it is you are going to say and THEN, saying it! Initially, 10 seconds seems like a long time but as I work with people that becomes shorter and shorter – 5 seconds, 4 seconds, 3, 2 and then it is almost spontaneous!

And there is nothing wrong with a pause when you are speaking! A momentary pause can be very dramatic – depending on what you have to say and to whom you are saying it.

So, a great tip for you is to start to be mindful of your reaction to other peoples’ “ummmmms” and “ahhhhhs.” What happens when you hear that? Do you not want to listen to them anymore? Do you not believe what they are saying? Do you think they themselves don’t believe what they are saying? Or that they don’t care about what they are saying?

What difference might that make in your communication with others?

To Being Heard,


About the author

Linda Sherwin

Linda Sherwin has over 20 years extensive experience in corporate facilitations, coaching, keynotes and presentations in domestic and international markets. Known for her passionate presentation style and high energy, Linda teaches her clients how to tap into their own personal effectiveness to improve the bottomline by encouraging authentic communication at all levels of the organization. Linda is a published author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller All the Workplace is a Stage: Acting Techniques to Create Award-Winning Business Performance.