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Avoid the Filler Trap! Part 2: Recognizing Your Personal Patterns

In our last post, we discussed how reducing the use of filler words in your speech can help you sound more clear, confident and professional. We addressed the first step in filler word reduction: awareness of how often you use filler words. This week, we will discuss the second step in our four-word filler reduction process: recognizing your personal patterns.

Each person has a particular pattern when it comes to filler words. In reducing your reliance on fillers, it helps to be aware of which filler words you use most often. In our last post, we suggested making a recording of your speech to become aware of how often you use filler words. That same recording can be used in this step. When listening to the recording, take note of which words you use most often. For example, you may find that you interject the word “like” several times in each sentence, or that you say “umm” whenever there’s a break in the flow of your speech. Below are some of the most common filler patterns:

– Using “you know” in rapid or spontaneous speech

– Ending sentences with, “Okay?” “Right?” “See?” or “You know what I mean?”

– Using “Umm” at the beginning of sentences, when transitioning from one thought to another, or before a list of items

Once you have recognized which filler words you use most often, try to identify the situations in which you are most likely to use them. For example, many people find that they use filler words most often when feeling anxious or excited. Being intimidated by the situation or the person to whom you are speaking is another common situation in which fillers increase. Once you have recognized which situations you are more likely to use fillers in, you can take extra care to monitor your speech in those situations.

Stay tuned: Next week we will discuss the final steps in filler word reduction: Anticipate and Pause


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