Breathing Life Back into the Full-Stop

It’s one of those things you don’t even realise you’re doing until you listen back to a recording of your voice. There it is : “My first introduction to… umm.. technology was in school when…umm.. my teacher installed our first PC”. It’s more likely you’ve found yourself quite annoyed as an audience member or listener when you’ve heard someone else do this, am I right?

As a subject-matter-expert, blogger or industry professional you will be asked to speak in front of an audience, or perhaps do an interview for a newspaper, magazine, blog, podcast or online course. For speaking engagements, it comes with the territory to be well rehearsed and spend time preparing. But – with interviews, you’re less likely to be so prepared.


In conversation, sometimes we unconsciously try to keep control of our turn to speak by adding in ‘umm’ instead of a graceful pause – because we’re not ready to give the other person their turn to speak!

First here’s the MOST important thing to remember: The full-stop deserves to live. It is a character (with feelings?) JUST like all the other characters you so lovingly enunciate. So – don’t kill it off with an ‘umm’. Take a beat… take a breath… just say “____” (nothing). This gives the audience/listener a chance to catch their thoughts too!

For interviews, follow these handy hints to ensure you’re well prepared and less likely to fill the gaps with ‘umm’:

  1. If you’ve followed my speaking tips for a while, you’ll be up to speed with this one : remember this isn’t about YOU. If you’re stuck in your own head, worrying about how you sound/look/come across, you’ll trip on your words and fall back on ‘um’. You’re the VEHICLE for the message you’ve been asked to talk about. SERVE the audience/listeners. Calmly and concisely.
  2. Ensure you know the REASON you’re doing the interview. Is it just a favour for a friend or colleague? If so, let them direct you about what insights/info they want to draw out of you. They don’t have to provide you with all the questions – because that can make an interview sound wooden – but if you understand the CONTEXT, you’ll be more prepared.
  3. If you’re concerned with nerves, you can boost your CONFIDENCE by remembering that you were asked to do this interview because you’re the expert in the topic! The interviewer has chosen YOU for a reason. That’s all the tick of approval you need in order to banish the negative thoughts about whether you’ll be able to answer the questions.
    Download my guide to getting rid of Speaking nerves forever.
  4. Ensure the interviewer introduces you properly. You should provide the INTRODUCTION for them which positions you perfectly as the person who is about to be interviewed. Think of the introduction as ‘earning you the right’ in the audience’s eyes to be the one being profiled in the interview.
  5. As mentioned before, it’s difficult to rehearse for interviews – but you CAN ask your family or colleagues to throw a few general, random questions at you and practice answering them without an UM as the start of your sentence.

What other tips would you add to let the full stop live? Join the Small Business Pow Wow group on Facebook to continue the discussion!

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