Ah, ummm, and

24 Jan

One of the biggest benefits of Toastmasters meetings is the “Ah, Ummm, and And counter.” Yes, I typed that right. Yes, ahs, ummms, and ands are a big deal.

When speakers interject ahs, ummms, and ands into their speeches, they dilute the potency of their message. They do not do this on purpose. Rather, they search for the right words, and in the meantime issue an inadvertent ah, ummm, or and. Everybody does it. Politicians are the biggest offenders. The next time a TV reporter asks a politician a big question, wait for the response. If the respondent is a good speaker and has a solid answer, you will hear it. If not, you will get some ahs, ummms, and ands.

Going through the experience of having somebody count your ahs, ummms, and ands can help you become a stronger speaker. It takes time to remove these inadvertent space fillers from your speaking, but it is a mandatory step.

I can demonstrate how ahs, ummms, and ands dilute the message. Suppose you walked into the room right now and asked, “Mark, what blog post are you writing today?” I could respond:

  • “I am writing about overcoming glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. I am including a funny quote from Jerry Seinfeld. I am encouraging readers to find a local Toastmasters club,” OR
  • “Ummm, I am writing about overcoming ah…glossophobia, the fear of public speaking and…I am including a funny quote from Jerry Seinfeld. I ummm am encouraging readers to find a ah local Toastmasters club and ummm go.”

Tough to read? Yes, I agree. It’s even tougher paying attention to speakers who issue inadvertent ahs, ummms, and ands. They put their audience to sleep.

Suppose you bought Escape the Cubicle in audio format (on a CD) and I read Chapter 1. It could sound like this:

  • “Chapter 1: Let Your Light Shine. Don’t let anybody take it away. I know a woman who worked at an architect’s office. It was a strict environment and the owner ruled with meanness. Staff was unhappy. People complained constantly. The office had a negative energy, and even though this woman had significant seniority there, she was almost as unpleasant as the owner,” OR
  • “Chapter 1: Ummm Let Your Light Shine and don’t let anybody take it away. I know a woman ummm who worked at an architect’s office and ah it was a strict environment. The owner ah ruled with ummm meanness and staff was ah unhappy and people complained constantly. The office had ah negative energy and ummm even though this woman had significant ah seniority there, she was almost as ummm unpleasant as the owner.”


Mark Anthony Germanos is the author of two books, Escape the Cubicle: How to leave your corporate or government job for something better and How to Make Computer Systems Work for You. He has faith in a slow but sure Sacramento business revival. Sacramento small business owners are leading the way. His second book, Escape the Cubicle, is for those who want to escape cubicle jobs and become successfully self-employed. Escape the Cubicle answers the questions: "How can I grow my business" and "How do I become my own boss."

Mark is the President of Cameron Park Computer Services. As a business owner and computer networking consultant, he has seen habits that successful Sacramento small business owners embrace. He helps Sacramento small business owners embrace those habits to increase their profits, efficiency and happiness. An advocate of Sacramento business revival, Mark believes everybody should run their lives like a small business, perform SWOT Analyses and use social media campaigns to improve business. He used to say “social media is stupid.” That was until he attended a conference and saw how Sacramento small business owners can use social media campaigns as a valuable tool. Since then, he has earned more than $40,000 in business via social media. His Sacramento small business clients also have five-figure returns. Sacramento small business owners that launch social media campaigns give themselves a comparative advantage over those who lag behind. Mark does not do everything, but his clients do receive great results and participate in the Sacramento business revival when they follow his advice.

Mark moved from Chicago and restarted his business in California with a cell phone and a Honda Civic. An active triathlete, he has a life, a dream wife and a dog. For additional details, visit Twitter: Facebook: LinkedIn:


Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: