Listen to any meeting, conference call, or presentation, and you’ll typically hear speaker after speaker pepper their deliveries with verbal tics, ranging from “you know” to “anyway” to “like.”
Throwing in “actually” and “you know” into everyday language may not seem like such a make-or-break issue. I’ve realized how disruptive these phrases can be when we try and express ourselves. These little expressions have the power to diminish the strength of our statements – particularly in a presentation setting – and torpedo how effectively our abilities come across to others.
So what’s the remedy?
Redemption begins with awareness, and a new app – LikeSo – combines the power and ease of social media with the discipline and guidance of a diction coach to put you on the road to better speech. Created by Audrey Mann Cronin – with a little inspiration by her own teens – and co-founder Phil Lam, LikeSo lets our ever-present smartphones launch us into a new era of clear, concise, articulate speech.
The app offers two different ways to get at the heart of speech challenges – “TalkAbout” and “FreeStyle.” In “TalkAbout,” you can select a topic – ranging from The Interview to Pop Culture Favorites to Famous Faces & Places – and choose whether or not you want to talk about each topic within the categories for 30 or 60 seconds. It also includes a list of common verbal tics – including, “actually,” “ya know,” “just,” “anyway,” and more – that you can ask the app to listen for.
After you hit “start” you simply speak into the phone and begin talking about the subject prompts – for example, during my Famous Faces & Places topic, I spoke extemporaneously about the Great Wall of China, Shakespeare, and Stonehenge. At the end, the app tallies up how many words you spoke, your pace, and how often you used the verbal tics you selected.
Within “TalkAbout,” The Interview topic offers users a great opportunity to practice those typical, yet never-easy-to-answer job interview questions such as “How did you hear about this position?” and “How do you handle stress?”
“FreeStyle” works in a similar manner, but as the name suggests, you can talk about whatever you’d like, and it offers a selection of longer evaluation times, up to 30 minutes. It would be an ideal forum in which to practice everything from an upcoming work presentation to school oral reports. And like “TalkAbout,” “FreeStyle” offers the same post-talk evaluation, and both modes allow you to save the results so you can go back and see how you’ve improved over time.
As I found years ago, if you want to improve your presentation skills, practice makes perfect. After using each LikeSo mode, I found my second effort more effective than the first, and overall it proved a great reminder on how not to slip back into lackadaisical speech patterns.
By helping you rid yourself of the verbal tics that both diminish and detract from your insights and abilities, the LikeSo app makes it easier than ever to establish a more polished, professional persona.
The LikeSo app sells for 99 cents and can be found here.
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