Dan Tudor

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Can I Check You For “Tics”?Monday, April 16th, 2007

As a country music fan here in California, I love singer Brad Paisley’s songs.  If you’re a fan too, you know that his new hit is entitled, "Ticks".  The quirky chorus of this country music hit features the line, "I want to check you for ticks".

Well, today I’d like to do the same thing – kind of.  I’d like to check you for verbal tics.  You might recognize them as, "uh", "um"…or "you know".  Another term for them is "vocalized pauses", and they can pop up at really, really inconvenient times.  Like in the middle of a recruiting visit, or in a speech to alumni, or addressing your fellow coaches.  Tics and vocalized pauses can hamper your credibility, and – if they are really, really bad – ruin your reputation as a professional, well-educated coach.  Good communication skills are crucial to successful recruiting, which is a big topic for us in our guide for recruiters, "Selling for Coaches"

Most coaches are unaware that they have this common problem – so how do you know if you have it? And if you do, what can you do about it?

Ask a trusted friend if you tend to fill up your sentences with meaningless filler words. Or record your half of a telephone conversation. Verbal tics are a habit – like biting your nails – that you may not notice until you force yourself to look for them.

Want to know the key to eliminating them?  OK, here you go.  Learn to pause. Get comfortable with silence, which can add emphasis to your words and give you a moment to plan your next sentence.  Sounds simple, I know, but if you begin to implement it in your everyday conversation you’ll find that it take practice.

Put a period (with your voice) at the end of every sentence. Most people with verbal tics end their sentences with an upward inflection, so the sentence never feels complete.

Having verbal tics is one of the easiest speech problems to overcome, and the results have immediate benefits for you in the form of respect, admiration for your speaking abilities, and a reputation as an intelligent coach and recruiter.

We’ll be talking more about presentation skills, and how they will either positively or negatively affect your recruiting abilities.  SFC Premium Members will get our report on the subject in a few days.  If you’d like to be a part of this extra training, it’s pretty simple: Try our Premium Membership for free for 30 days.