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At Corporate Speech Solutions, we strive to help you sound as confident and professional as possible in your speech. One habit that can be fatal to this professional, confident speaking style is the use of fillers.

Fillers are words, phases or sounds which hold no content, but are often added to speech when peopleare unsure of themselves or trying to think. Words and phrases such as “um,” “well,” “you know,” and “okay?” are common fillers that many people use in their speech.

Using fillers is often a deeply engrained habit that can be difficult to break. However, it’s worth the effort; fillers can disrupt the flow of your speech and make you sound sloppy, unprofessional, and unsure of yourself. Take a look at our 4-step approach to eliminating filler words from your speech:

Step 1: Awareness Before you can take steps to reduce your filler words, you must first be aware of them. One great way to do this is to record yourself as you speak. Use a tape recorder and speak about a topic on which you are comfortable and knowledgeable. As you listen to your recording, count how many filler words you used. You should be using no more than one filler word per minute; if you use filler words more frequently than this, you risk distracting your audience and confusing your message.

Step 2: Recognizing your personal patterns. Each person has a particular pattern when it comes to filler words. The same recording created in Step 1 can be used in this step as well. Listen to the recording again, and write down the specific fillers you used. Next, try to identify the situations in which you are most likely to use these filler words. For example, many people find that they use filler words most often when feeling anxious or excited. 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.

Step 3: Anticipate Using the information you gathered from Steps 1 and 2, you should now be able to anticipate when you will most likely use filler words as well as which ones you most commonly use. In order to use this to your advantage, choose a specific time in your daily routine in which you will be particularly conscious of your filler word usage. For example, you may choose a meeting with your colleagues or the time in which you return your voicemails. Whichever situation you select, during this period, closely monitor your speech and take note of when you feel tempted to use a filler word.

Step 4: Pause Once you have noted that you are tempted to use a filler word, simply pause instead. Most people feel self-conscious using silence in a conversation, but a well-timed pause sounds far more professional and confident than filling the silence with fillers like “umm” and “well”. When you are tempted to use a filler word, simply stop for a moment. This will give you the opportunity to gather your thoughts and will give your listener the chance to process your message, helping to make your speech more comprehensible.

These four steps are a good start to eliminating fillers, but to effectively break the habit, professional training is often necessary. Let our team of corporate speech-language pathologists help you polish your speech and turn your communication skills into your most powerful professional tool. Give us a call at 212-308-7725 or visit us on the web at www.corporatespeechsolutions.com. Don’t live in NYC? No problem! Our services are Skype ready, so CSS can help you improve your communication from anywhere in there world.