How to rid yourself of phonic tics

Many speakers are unaware of the idiosyncratic sounds they make during a presentation, distracting the audience and subverting the intended message. Here’s a remedy.

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I was in high school, I had a French teacher who grunted between every few words—little pig-like grunts would come from her mouth even when she was not speaking.

It was awkward for us, to say the least, and she was the brunt of many jokes. However, she was either completely unaware of this tic, or did not know how to stop it.

Most people have seen physical tics such as head jerks or hands that pull at clothes over and over when speaking, but there are also phonic tics. Phonic tics are involuntary sounds produced by moving air through the nose, mouth or throat.

Some call them vocal tics, but they could be a sound made when you breathe, a tongue click or throat clearing. The extreme of phonic tics is Tourette syndrome, but most are not that severe.

For most of us, tics appear when we least want them to-when we are in front of a group. Tics are associated with anxiety. (Naturally, I now have much more compassion for my French teacher, because I realize that we must have scared her to death.)

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