When it comes to presenting, it’s all about connection.
So what’s the best way to connect with your audience?
Not by being perfect, but by being authentically you. Here’s how:
Umms and Ahhs Are Not Your Enemy, Just Ask Google
Have you heard of Google’s new AI assistant named Duplex?
It’s artificial intelligence that will call up a restaurant to make a reservation for you. Or call your favorite salon to get you a hair appointment.
Here’s the kicker. It sounds exactly like a human.
In fact, the person on the other end of the phone has no idea they’re speaking to a robot.
Do you know what Google did to make their artificial intelligence sound more human?
They added filler words.
That’s right, they gave their robots umms and ahhs to sound more human and help build a connection with the person on the other end of the phone.
And while artificial intelligence is trying to sound more human, us humans are doing everything we can to sound more like robots.
The Problem with a Perfect Pitch
I’ve heard tons of ways public speaking professionals try to eradicate umms and ahhs from their clients’ speech:
Using a bell to keep count (which does nothing but ratchet up anxiety)
Snapping a rubber band on your wrist (which hurts like heck)
Putting out a lit cigarette on your forearm (kidding)
These are ridiculous methods that will do little to help in the long run. They may even create more fear and anxiety at the thought of presenting.
In today’s day and age, you won’t charm anyone with a flawless pitch delivered with Julliard precision.
As Google’s AI deftly proves, used sparingly and authentically filler words will make you more relatable to your audience.
It’s only when they become crutch words, used out of nervousness or lack of preparation, that they hurt your credibility.
How To Make Humans Sound More Human
Want to get better at presenting? Talk about what you know.
When I coach salespeople who are first learning how to sell a new technology, they usually sound awful.
Their speech is filled with umms and ahhs, their body language is insecure, and they have a very hard time making a personal connection.
Why? Because they don’t truly understand what they’re selling.
And, if they don’t understand the product or service, how can they believe in it?
That’s when I stop and tell them to forget the sales pitch.
When I ask them to tell me a quick story about their favorite slice of pizza in Denver, a favorite childhood memory, or a funny story about their dog, they light up.
The hesitation, along with umms and ahhs, are gone. Their body language opens up. They look like the great presenters they really are.
Why? Because they believe in what they’re saying. They’re being their authentic self.
If you’re trying to work on your umms and ahhs, make sure you’re really prepared—just not to the point where you sound overly rehearsed.
Have you really practiced enough? Done enough reps? Put in the work?
If you’re in a situation where you’re forced to pitch something that you truly don’t understand, or are feeling too inauthentic to pull it off, try turning it into a team sell.
Bringing along a subject-matter expert from your organization will help you focus on what you do best, and your teammate will do the same.
Authenticity rules when building connection.
Your audience doesn’t care about perfection. They just want connection.
Present Everything Better
Our clients are smart people who do amazing work but want help presenting their ideas better.
Pitch Lab produces custom workshops that break down the comedy techniques the pros use on stage to help your client-facing team build better relationships, differentiate from the competition and win more deals!
Want to learn more? Let’s chat!