If you’re like most people, filler words and phrases creep into your speech much more than you realize. What exactly is a filler? My basic definition is any word or phrase that doesn’t add content or value to your message, for example, “um”, “like”, and “you know” (for a list of common fillers, check out last week’s blog). Taking the time to reduce your reliance on fillers is well worth the effort. Including too many fillers in your speech can make you sound unprofessional, inexperienced, and inarticulate. How do you go about cutting fillers out of your professional speech? Check out our four-step plan below:
Step 1: Raise Your Awareness
The first step to reducing your filler use is raising your awareness of how often you use them. Record yourself during a typical conversation either on the phone or in person for at least two minutes. As you listen to your recording, count how many filler words you used. You might be surprised at the results! You should be using no more than two filler words in two minutes. Greater than two in two minutes may be very distracting for your listener and, may make you sound unsure of what you are saying.
Step 2: Recognize Your Patterns
Each person has a particular pattern when it comes to filler words. Listen to the recording you made in Step 1. Which fillers did you use? When did you use them? Do you typically use them at the beginning of sentences? As connectors? When you’re thinking, nervous or caught off guard? Are you using the very common “um” or “uh” or what I call “the variety pack”? Take a moment and jot down a couple of sentences that included filler words. Then take a moment to say these sentences aloud with the filler words removed.
Step 3: Learn to 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. Choose a specific time in your daily routine in which you will be particularly conscious of your use of filler words. During this time, closely monitor your speech and take mental note of when you feel tempted to use a filler word.
Step 4: Pause
When you feel 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 fillers like “umm” and “well”. Pausing will also give you the opportunity to gather your thoughts and will give your listener the chance to process your message.
If your communication skills are holding you back from professional success and you want to make your communication skills your most powerful professional tool. Be sure to pick up a free copy of my e-book “Communicate with Clarity and Confidence!” by subscribing to our newsletter community on our website. You can also visit our resource page and choose from nine different FREE resources that will impact your business today!
Give us a call and see how Corporate Speech Solutions can improve your professional life! Call us at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!