”Um” is an unfortunate part of the English language. There is no purpose for it. It should be replaced with either “I don’t know” or “I’ll find out and get back with you”, however we stall instead of admitting we don’t know everything and use “um”. Well, stop. It makes you look incompetent.
Start forgetting the “um” by allowing yourself to pause. Typically, people tend to use “um” because they either don’t want to admit they don’t know something or they need a second to rethink their response. There is no rule stating you can’t pause to think. So, pause to think and refrain from the use of “um”.
Another way to start forgetting the “um” is to tape yourself speaking about yourself. The trick is to speak for two and a half minutes. So, set up a timer and your webcamera. Speak for two and a half minutes straight and speak only about your personal life, not your professional life. Elevator pitches are practiced. Act as if you are on a late night talk show and you have to share something specifically about your personal life. When you finish filming, don’t watch the video. Instead, walk away.
Watch the video you recorded a week later. Count the “ums”, the “likes” and other words that are not needed in your speech. Then, make a weekly video where you consciously try to either pause or select other words when speaking about yourself. Repeat the same process (waiting a week to watch) and note your progress. This method does help correct the “um” problem.
Twyla N. Garrett