How to relieve stress to eliminate “uhs” from your speech

Eliminate “uh” from your vocabulary forever!

By Jack Thomas
© 2005

Studies have shown that some people would rather risk being burned alive than to have to stand up in front of a group of people and give a speech.

In my book, Eliminate Stress Forever with Psychoharmonics™, I explain that the key to avoiding stress is to learn to recognize and cancel all impossible goals that you are harboring in your mind. Impossible goals are those that cannot be achieved because of time, space, or circumstances. You can’t be here now and somewhere else now. You can’t do anything yesterday, or even a minute ago. You can’t set goals for anybody else or anything else.

One common type of impossible goal occurs when you try to achieve two or more conflicting goals. You can’t be in Atlanta at your daughter’s birthday party and, at the same time, be at an important business conference in New York City. You can’t be totally loyal to both your legal mate and an extracurricular lover. A more familiar example is, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” And the list goes on.

Not all conflicting goals are easy to recognize, especially if one of the goals is at a subconscious or unconscious level. It takes study and practice to identify them. Practice on the little ones and then when a big one comes along, you’re ready. As you do your household chores, is it your goal to be on the beach? Are you with one person and wishing you were with another? Are you on your way to work and wishing you were still in bed? Resolve the conflicts and enjoy the moment. Enjoy cleaning house. Love the one you’re with. Either go back to bed or enjoy your drive and look forward to a good day at work. Anything else is an impossible goal creating unnecessary, unproductive stress. Nothing, other than stress, disease, and eventually death, is ever achieved by maintaining impossible goals.

One type of impossible goal is very easy to overlook.  Anytime you “can’t make up your mind” about something, you’re pitting conflicting goals against one another: go to church or stay in bed, buy a convertible or a van, eat that dessert or pass on it, have the old sick dog euthanized or let him hang on a while longer.  And the list goes on.  A long list of actions that you’re indecisive about can add up to a lot of stress.  A good habit that eliminates this source of stress is to recognize when you’re struggling with a decision, sit down and write out all the pros and cons, and then make a final decision.  Once you decide on action A, cancel the goal to take action B.  Once you get skilled in recognizing and canceling minor impossible goals, then it becomes much easier to have success with larger ones.  You don’t try to run a marathon until you’re pretty good at running around the block.

A great place to apply these stress-avoiding principles is when you’re required to speak in public, whether it’s to a huge audience or just to one other person. If you’re like most people, nearly every sentence you utter is punctuated with annoying “fillers,” such as “uhhhh,” “you know,” “like,” etc. Even many professional announcers and speakers exhibit this handicap, especially when they don’t have cue cards or a teleprompter to help them. You can eliminate that annoying, distracting habit, of course, by spending several weeks and several thousand dollars with a “speech coach.” Or you can spend a few minutes studying what you’ll find in the next few paragraphs.

In the Psychoharmonics™ system, you are shown that all behavior is controlled by one of three emotions: love, hate, or fear, which are mutually exclusive and exhaustive. That means when you’re in one of these mindsets, you can’t be in another, and those are the only three that are available to you. These emotional mindsets are so strong that they actually act as independent personalities within your own personality. When you’re very angry, your hate mindset is totally dominant. You hate everybody. When fear takes over, you fear everything. Love works the same way.

So, what does all of this have to do with becoming fearlessly fluent when you’re speaking? The first step in the solution is to realize that every time you set a goal, it creates a little tension in your mind and body. Even though it’s on a subconscious level, when you have someone’s attention and they’re listening to you, you feel obligated to fill all of that time/space with noise. That becomes an automatic goal – to have some kind of noise continuously coming out of your mouth. If your thoughts or words do not come to you immediately, your fearful self jumps in with the thought that your audience will think you’re stupid. And your fearful self, of course, really is stupid. He can’t remember anything. The more fearful you become, the more stressed you feel because you are not achieving your goal to have all that time/space filled with noise. So, to relieve the stress, you fill up the time/space with “uhhhhhs.”

In my younger days when I was working as an international economic developer, I had frequent telephone conversations with businessmen from all over the world. A Japanese executive called me several times each year to make arrangements for a client’s visit. With his limited English and desire to make a good impression, his conversation always went like this: “Uhhhhhhhhh, Meester Thomas, uhhhhhhhhhh Kayakawa here, uhhhhhhhhhh Los Angeles Office…” Get the picture?

To rid your speech of all of these annoying fillers, all you have to do is cancel the goal to have all of the time/space filled with noise. It’s that simple. Try it for a few minutes and you’ll see how beautifully it works for you. Before you speak, say to yourself, “It is not my goal to have all of this time/space filled with noise,” and believe it. Then, what you have left will be…very…effective…pauses. And those pauses actually give more power to your speech. They communicate to your audience that you have enough self-confidence to just stand there with nothing coming out of your mouth. Then, when you do say something, they listen. After all, you’re an important person who’s worth listening to!

To avoid a fear mindset at the outset, be sure to use positive labels for your audience. Regard them as good, kind, considerate, compassionate people. Tell yourself, “I love these people and they love me.” Avoid any kind of negative label for anything in your environment. Expect your speech to go well and, if you’ve taken the time to prepare it and yourself properly, it will go well. Eventually, as with any new venture, the more you do it, the better you become at it, and the more confident you are that you will succeed.

To further reduce your stress level, whether speaking to millions of people or lying in your own bed, keep in mind that traditions, customs, mores, political correctness and various other expectations are really goals pushed at us by society. They are very convenient vehicles for controlling people, but they sometimes need to be examined to determine if they’re really good for us, the people, or not. Do you really want to go to college? Get married? Have 2.3 children? Work at a regular 8 to 5 job? Live in a big house? Drive a big car? Wear an expensive suit? Have a big church wedding? By carefully choosing your own goals that you want to put your energy into and refusing to let others “set goals” for you, you can greatly reduce your normal stress level. That strategy also enables you to be perceived by others as powerful and self-confident. You’re not trying to please anybody. You don’t try to set goals for others to love you, accept you, or respect you. Just be yourself. Love who you are. And enjoy the moment.

To learn more about the Psychoharmonics™ system for understanding yourself and others that also lets you take control of your emotions instead of having them control you, click here and buy the book. One of the many intriguing things you’ll learn is how to determine if you’re really in love or just in a rut. You’ll also discover how to really make the object of your affection feel loved, how to totally forgive, and how to avoid offending or being offended. Any one of these skills makes the book well worth its modest price.

If you live in the Atlanta, Georgia area, and you’d like a little personal coaching to help you get rid of your “uhs” and become a more confident and more powerful presenter, write me at doctorstress [at] live [dot] com to set up an appointment. A two-hour session that gives you a before and after tape that will amaze you and your friends is only $495. To speed up your progress and get you totally reprogrammed at the subconscious level to eliminate any possibility of “stage fright,” guided imagery sessions are available. Out-of-town appointments also can be arranged.

For more information on the Psychoharmonics™ system, look up the book, Eliminate Stress Forever with Psychoharmonics™at Amazon or use the Google search engine to find “psychoharmonics™,” or find excerpts from the book at Google Print .

This article is copyrighted and it is unlawful to reproduce it in any manner without the written permission of the author.

If you liked this article, you’ll love my new book:

Stress is a Choice; So is Joy
now available at for $2.99

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