Ummm... Ahh.. Y'know... Err....

by emptee
28 replies
Right guys - for a loooong time I avoided recording video/audio of myself, as I'm not a strong speaker.

I've recently got into it, and I'm finding it a lot more effective for selling (as I'm sure everyone else who has tried has).

The thing is.. recording myself has made me painfully aware of how often I'm "umming" and "ahhing",, among other terrible vocal habits.. It's awful!

Has anyone trained themselves out of doing this? If so, any tips for correcting ones bad habits?

Cheers,
Michael
#ahh #err #ummm #yknow
  • Profile picture of the author swiftimpulse
    Originally Posted by emptee View Post

    Has anyone trained themselves out of doing this? If so, any tips for correcting ones bad habits?
    Few tips (used to be a radio presenter)

    - When recording promos or audio clips, smile as you speak - it comes out in your voice and actually sounds better if you compare it to when you spoke without smiling

    - Replace 'umms / ahhs' with silence - it makes you sound like you're a bit deeper in thought. Annunciation is important with this though, so if your voice sounds trembly and nervous then this method won't work. You will have to consciously record yourself doing this a number of times before this will be automatic

    - I'm assuming you're ad-libbing as you go along instead of reading from prepared notes. Record once ad-lib, write down word for word what you intended to say, then re-record with the notes nearby to prompt you. Don't sound like you're reading word for word. It may help to put these into dot form although that depends upon personal preference

    - Don't rely on your first recording being the only recording. When you've recorded multiple videos for a long time over and over again then yes, you can use your first recording as it will likely be near-perfect if not perfect for your needs. There were many times I recorded audio snippets and something was just not quite right the first time, and re-recording / producing it again, while more time consuming, paid off.
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    • Profile picture of the author emptee
      Originally Posted by swiftimpulse View Post

      Few tips (used to be a radio presenter)

      - When recording promos or audio clips, smile as you speak - it comes out in your voice and actually sounds better if you compare it to when you spoke without smiling

      - Replace 'umms / ahhs' with silence - it makes you sound like you're a bit deeper in thought. Annunciation is important with this though, so if your voice sounds trembly and nervous then this method won't work. You will have to consciously record yourself doing this a number of times before this will be automatic

      - I'm assuming you're ad-libbing as you go along instead of reading from prepared notes. Record once ad-lib, write down word for word what you intended to say, then re-record with the notes nearby to prompt you. Don't sound like you're reading word for word. It may help to put these into dot form although that depends upon personal preference

      - Don't rely on your first recording being the only recording. When you've recorded multiple videos for a long time over and over again then yes, you can use your first recording as it will likely be near-perfect if not perfect for your needs. There were many times I recorded audio snippets and something was just not quite right the first time, and re-recording / producing it again, while more time consuming, paid off.
      Hi swiftimpulse,

      Thank you for taking the time to respond. That all sounds like great advice to me - I'll definitely put it to use in my next recording sessions. Some of it I had already been trying.. it's good to hear how the professionals do it

      Just one quick question - What is 'dot form'? A quick google search didn't yield any obvious results.. Is that a simple format of note taking I assume?

      Cheers,
      Michael
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      • Profile picture of the author Joe Broon
        I'm in exactly the same situation as you....and I sound awful!!!

        However I am persevering.

        Like the previous post said, preparation is key.

        I practise and practise and practise some more so I know what I want to say inside and out. It flows much better and gives me greater confidence.

        I also try to imagine that I am talking to just one person.

        If you can, try to watch Chris Farells videos. He is so relaxed and lovely. He makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world and like he is speaking directly to you.

        He is the the person I try to emulate.

        Don't give up

        Joe
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      • Profile picture of the author swiftimpulse
        Originally Posted by emptee View Post

        Hi swiftimpulse,
        Just one quick question - What is 'dot form'?
        Ah sorry, that's my bad simplification of the English language

        I meant using bullet points to overview each topic you wanted to discuss.

        I mentioned that because sometimes people can't help but sound like they're reading when using prepared notes, so using bullet points is a way to mitigate that yet still give you a reference to work with if you're losing your trail of thought during the recording
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  • If you are doing live radio shows. then yes, you'll need to work on getting out of the habit (by repetition and awareness) to eliminate any sounds that do not belong, such as heavy sighs, coughs, uhms and ahs, etc.

    However, if you are working on a project where there's no live audience as you are recording it, such as a voice over, or recording an Audio Book, then what professionals really do (besides getting out of the bad habits) is have the recording "edited" after the fact. (digitally silencing unwanted sounds, leveling volume discrepancies etc).
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    • Profile picture of the author emptee
      Originally Posted by stoltingmediagroup View Post

      If you are doing live radio shows. then yes, you'll need to work on getting out of the habit (by repetition and awareness) to eliminate any sounds that do not belong, such as heavy sighs, coughs, uhms and ahs, etc.

      However, if you are working on a project where there's no live audience as you are recording it, such as a voice over, or recording an Audio Book, then what professionals really do (besides getting out of the bad habits) is have the recording "edited" after the fact. (digitally silencing unwanted sounds, leveling volume discrepancies etc).

      If you like, PM me a sample file, (up to one minute) of your crappiest raw recording.
      I'll have someone polish it for you, and you'll hear the difference. (no charge).
      Hi mate,

      Thanks for the offer - I'm actually reasonably well equiped to tidy up the audio after the fact.. so that's OK. The trouble is, most of the time I'm talking while demonstrating software (as that's a large part of my business). So, I end up with either a veeeerrrrrryyyyy long silence, or jumpy video where I have to cut out a portion to keep it from sounding too stop-start.

      Cheers,
      Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author Jennifer Hutson
    It's never bothered me when I hear people do the "um" thing. It's so common that I never notice it much.

    If you're really set on getting out of the habit, try writing a script before you do a video, so you're only reading. It's hard to "um," then
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    • Profile picture of the author emptee
      Originally Posted by Jennifer Hutson View Post

      It's never bothered me when I hear people do the "um" thing. It's so common that I never notice it much.

      If you're really set on getting out of the habit, try writing a script before you do a video, so you're only reading. It's hard to "um," then
      Ahh yes - I do try and work to a script - part of the problem with me is that I find myself going off script a little too much.. Especially if some process of unpredictable length needs to happen on video.

      I like swiftimpulse's idea of ad-libbing, then writing the script based on that - it should help me with getting more accurate timings and (hopefully) reducing the time my brain attempts to fill with umming and ahhing

      Cheers,
      Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author Samfakroon
    Yes I was doing that before but you know what, once you start doing videos like magic these ummm and ahhh will automatically vanish. I started by writing and cramming a script then started getting from my own without prior preparation with a lot of ummm and ahhh. But as I got more used to that disappeared. The funny thing is when I am teaching live I dint get the problem at all unless I talk to myself pretending am talking to an audience thats when I used to get uummm problems.
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    • Profile picture of the author emptee
      Originally Posted by Samfakroon View Post

      Yes I was doing that before but you know what, once you start doing videos like magic these ummm and ahhh will automatically vanish. I started by writing and cramming a script then started getting from my own without prior preparation with a lot of ummm and ahhh. But as I got more used to that disappeared. The funny thing is when I am teaching live I dint get the problem at all unless I talk to myself pretending am talking to an audience thats when I used to get uummm problems.
      Hi Samfakroon,

      I've found the same thing! I don't seem to have the issue as much when I'm talking to people naturally or on a call. After reading your response, I think my issue might be stemming from the fact that I'm still rather uncomfortable on camera/mic.. definitely food for thought..

      Cheers,
      Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author Edson Buchanan
    Hey Fellow Warriors,

    When it comes to perfecting speech, its just a matter of doing and doing and doing it

    From my personal experience of doing video marketing for the past eight years, practice makes perfect.

    When I go back and look at my old videos, you will see that I used to say ummm, huh...ohhh LOL

    Now it comes as natural as driving a car.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Originally Posted by emptee View Post

    Right guys - for a loooong time I avoided recording video/audio of myself, as I'm not a strong speaker.

    I've recently got into it, and I'm finding it a lot more effective for selling (as I'm sure everyone else who has tried has).

    The thing is.. recording myself has made me painfully aware of how often I'm "umming" and "ahhing",, among other terrible vocal habits.. It's awful!

    Has anyone trained themselves out of doing this? If so, any tips for correcting ones bad habits?

    Cheers,
    Michael


    Audio: Get Audacity (free, and you'll need the LAME encoder for exporting to mp3 format--seriously, that's what it's called...also free). Or any audio editor will do.

    Video: Use your editing software. Talk over slides. You can use a "Hi I'm X" in-person opening/closing if you like, but have the main presentation over slides.

    In both cases, simply zoom into the audio track so you can see individual words, and trim out your ums and ahs.

    In the videos, because you're trimming a static slide screen (the slide doesn't change) no one ever knows.

    This is tedious, but well worth it. I do it with interviews and products.

    It makes you, and your guest if you're interviewing someone, sound really on the ball!

    After awhile, you'll even start to know what an "um" looks like represented in an audio recording.

    The deletion process will double the time you spend on prepping your media, but it will hasten the pacing, increase your listener retention rate, and make you proud of the result.

    For years, I wanted to collect all of the ums and ahs deleted from an interview and compile them for giggles. Here's a few from an interview I did with copywriter Mark Pescetti. We sure sound smart, don't we (yeah, with 'em gone from the audio, we do):

    http://www.salestactics.org/wp-conte...2015/01/Um.mp3

    Keep making recordings...over time you will improve as a speaker. This is a SKILL and you don't pop out of the womb great at it. Do you do dry runs to get the lay of the land before you record the final version? Do you really know your topic and what you're trying to express? These are things you can do to hasten your improvement.

    Tips videos typically require two takes for me: the first stumbled through to get clear on what//how I'm trying to express, and the second for it to be nicely done. But I have many years of experience at talking as a corporate speaker. That's why interviews are a bit more challenging...questions are often in reaction to what my subject is saying and that's what leads to the ums as I'm figuring out what I'm asking on the fly. In a presentation, I'm fully in control, know my topic, and know how I'm going to say what I'm saying...and that leads to great first and second takes.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Put a picture in front of you of a person close to you and talk to that person.

    Edit your audio, removing the umms.

    Unless you're doing a live demo or interview, etc, record your audio first, then time the video to the audio voice over. I like to record the audio in multiple short segments instead of one long one, with each segment corresponding to a "scene" or "slide" in the video, usually about 7-15 seconds long each.
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  • Profile picture of the author Angshuman Dutta
    I have a similar problem, so when I'm doing my screencasts I first writ edown what I want to say and then intentially include some "you know what, umm, actually...etc." moments to make it soudn more natural. And then of course I edit and fine tune the recording.
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  • Profile picture of the author LillyR
    If you have a really good understanding of what you're talking about, along with speaking practice, you will ooh and ahh very little.
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  • Profile picture of the author pizzatherapy
    Lots of great tips here.

    For audio recordings I use Audactiy to edit out all umms and ahs. Great audio editing capabilities. The editing process is very easy and you can edit with no problem.
    I have used it for interviews when every few words by the person I was interviewing was a "you know". It made the final recording sound very professional.

    While I have done many of my own audios with cue cards, the easiest ones for me have been using a script. It takes a bit to make it sound natural. I edit as I go and re-record as needed. With practice, using natural inflections in your voice the final recording will sound great.
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  • Profile picture of the author extrememan
    I know how you feel? I too tried to work on my speech when recording videos. It's only when I spoke with someone on facebook after viewing one of my videos did he say "The more raw and honest you are the more appealing you are to your viewers". And you know what he was right... All I can say is be yourself! You're unique and people will relate to you.
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    • Originally Posted by extrememan View Post

      "The more raw and honest you are the more appealing you are to your viewers"
      1. There's only so much "raw and honest" one can take when listening to a recording. Even if it's free, and just something instructional that I was looking for to fix a current challenge. I "will" look for someone elses video instead. (with less coughs, uhms and ahs,...)

      2. If it's a paid product, there should definitely be no "raw" in there at all!
      Sadly, the amount of "paid" products released, especially by IMers
      thinking that having a free copy of audacity and a cheap mike,
      gives them permission to cough, uhm and ah into a recording,
      and ask people to give them money for it.

      #notmycash
      Signature
      Arnold Stolting - Stolting Media Group
      "I LOVE The Song! The Vibe Is Positive And Firm!" - Kymani Marley. (Son of Bob Marley)
      "Keep Up The Good Work!" Tony Lindsay - Lead Vocalist, Carlos Santana.

      "Very High Quality!" Jeremy Harding - Manager / Producer. Sean Paul.
      "They Are FANTASTIC!" - Willie Crawford.

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      • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
        Originally Posted by stoltingmediagroup View Post

        1. There's only so much "raw and honest" one can take when listening to a recording. Even if it's free, and just something instructional that I was looking for to fix a current challenge. I "will" look for someone elses video instead. (with less coughs, uhms and ahs,...)

        2. If it's a paid product, there should definitely be no "raw" in there at all!
        Sadly, the amount of "paid" products released, especially by IMers
        thinking that having a free copy of audacity and a cheap mike,
        gives them permission to cough, uhm and ah into a recording,
        and ask people to give them money for it.

        #notmycash
        3. The worst are when they keep reaching over and drinking a smoothie.

        4. Or when they look like they just woke up with a hangover and have a ratty looking t-shirt on.
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  • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
    For many years I spoke at seminars with many thousands of people present. The biggest thing that helped me was recording my first drafts and rehearsals. You end up hearing your own "word whiskers" and yes it is painfully embarrassing. The more you listen and then try it again the more you improve. You may be surprised how quickly you can get rid of bad habits.

    Once you have improved don't worry about the occasional slip. Most people won't notice or even if they do they won't care.

    It is much easier to sound natural, sincere, and convincing with an outline or brief notes. This is much preferred to a word-for-word manuscript.

    Speak to a picture of someone or a mirror (a little harder) to make it feel real. In the beginning I would rehearse in front of my spouse and they would literally count my ums and also take note of words I mispronounced.

    I would not bother with the suggestions to edit out your mistakes. It is better to have a goal for personal development and simply improve your original recordings. This will also help you in your day to day conversations and other socializing. Ums and ahs are not hard to eliminate with some conscious effort.

    Don't be afraid of some silence. The gaps are usually not as long as you think. If it is not so long or frequent that it becomes distracting many people will not even notice. The more videos you make that will also automatically improve. Simple preparation and rehearsal will also help you to decrease unwanted silences.
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    • Originally Posted by Janice Sperry View Post

      I would not bother with the suggestions to edit out your mistakes. It is better to have a goal for personal development and simply improve your original recordings. This will also help you in your day to day conversations and other socializing. Ums and ahs are not hard to eliminate with some conscioueffort.
      I'm all for personal development. Ironically, we have worked with several personal development clients whom you may have heard of. (Editing and such...).

      Sure, improving day to day socializing, overall speaking skills etc,
      can't argue with that being a bad thing.

      But,

      Not to "bother with the suggestions to edit out your mistakes" ??

      hmmmm, uhm, awww..... I don't even know how to respond to that

      Janice.. hmmm ..

      uhmm.. ..


      Signature
      Arnold Stolting - Stolting Media Group
      "I LOVE The Song! The Vibe Is Positive And Firm!" - Kymani Marley. (Son of Bob Marley)
      "Keep Up The Good Work!" Tony Lindsay - Lead Vocalist, Carlos Santana.

      "Very High Quality!" Jeremy Harding - Manager / Producer. Sean Paul.
      "They Are FANTASTIC!" - Willie Crawford.

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      • Profile picture of the author Kurt
        Originally Posted by stoltingmediagroup View Post

        I'm all for personal development. Ironically, we have worked with several personal development clients whom you may have heard of. (Editing and such...).

        Sure, improving day to day socializing, overall speaking skills etc,
        can't argue with that being a bad thing.

        But,

        Not to "bother with the suggestions to edit out your mistakes" ??

        hmmmm, uhm, awww..... I don't even know how to respond to that

        Janice.. hmmm ..

        uhmm.. ..



        I agree with editing out mistakes and even pauses. It takes some effort on my part, but I can usually reduce the overall time of my videos by about 20-25% with editing. I do this because I respect the time of those watching my videos and I think I'll hold the viewers' attention better.


        My personal pet peeve is the people that "smack" when they speak. Although, there's some folks that sound like they're hacking up a lung as they cough and probably need to wipe a loogie off the mic are really annoying too.
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      • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
        Originally Posted by stoltingmediagroup View Post

        I'm all for personal development. Ironically, we have worked with several personal development clients whom you may have heard of. (Editing and such...).

        Sure, improving day to day socializing, overall speaking skills etc,
        can't argue with that being a bad thing.

        But,

        Not to "bother with the suggestions to edit out your mistakes" ??

        hmmmm, uhm, awww..... I don't even know how to respond to that

        Janice.. hmmm ..

        uhmm.. ..


        You are right. I got a little extreme in those comments. I should not have advised someone not to ever edit out mistakes just for the sake of self improvement. Thanks for gently putting me in my place.
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  • Profile picture of the author GelidMind
    Continue practicing and doing videos. If there's something you need to think about pause for a bit. People don't mind a pause. It may sound like a long gap to you, but usually it's not. I had the same problem when I started doing videos, but kept doing them anyways. If I didn't feel confident enough in the video I didn't post it. Or I did it over until I was satisfies.

    You can also edit your videos and take them out if you want to to that. If you want to work on your speaking and you have time you could always join a toastmasters meet up in your area. I'm sure you can get some great tips and practice in at weekly get meetups or however often they do them in your area.
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  • Hello emptee

    First of all do some video just to see and hear yourself ..... so see and feel where and what you need to fix; speaks always with a smile, will come to those who look at you and trained to speak breathing with your diaphragm. You'll see that your voice will become beautiful !!

    Good luck
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  • Profile picture of the author maxweb
    Hello, you can very well edit your video and remove "ums and errs". However, try to replace it with silence, I actually think a pause is better than hearing a nervous voice. This said, you need a lot of patience and practice. Good luck buddy
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  • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
    Banned
    Originally Posted by emptee View Post

    Right guys - for a loooong time I avoided recording video/audio of myself, as I'm not a strong speaker.

    I've recently got into it, and I'm finding it a lot more effective for selling (as I'm sure everyone else who has tried has).

    The thing is.. recording myself has made me painfully aware of how often I'm "umming" and "ahhing",, among other terrible vocal habits.. It's awful!

    Has anyone trained themselves out of doing this? If so, any tips for correcting ones bad habits?

    Cheers,
    Michael
    If it is more comfortable to record audio of yourself that way, then do it. Just edit out what you don't like. You'll find that is much easier than concentrating on a perfect delivery, which in the end will probably sound very stilted.

    Video is trickier, but it still can be done, if the shot is not of you, the entire time - and we all know that it shouldn't be. lol

    Cheers. - Frank
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