I never really noticed this until I watched a video of myself presenting at last year’s Lotusphere Comes To You… I do say “errrr” quite a lot when I do presentations, usually to start a sentence or bridge the gap between two passages of speech. It seems to have become habitual. Maybe I don’t do it all the time, I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it even though I know I do it. A rather detailed analysis of the cause and the remedy suggests that people resort to these linguistic ticks when they’re uncomfortable with the subject matter and when they’re in a situation where they’re more fearful of the judgement.

There are presentations that I do often – right now I could do the Notes / Domino 8.5 overview in my sleep, and without even needing to see the slides. Typically the Lotusphere Comes To You content is something fairly new, in format if not in content, and overall less familiar. The size of the audience doesn’t concern me – I would usually say that speaking to four hundred people is easier than speaking to four. But having said that, with a large and varied audience you have to be mindful of the level you’re pitching at and you can’t solicit feedback as you go about whether they’re understanding what you’re saying.

When LCTY comes round at the end of April, I don’t want to focus on eliminating the errrs and ummms too much – the content is more important. But at the same time I’d like to break what has obviously become a bad habit.

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