Discover how to Eliminate Filler Words from your Presentations
Those verbal sounds (ahs, ers, ums, you know, like, etc…) we make during our conversations – actually make up about 5% – 8% of the words we use every day, according to Michael Erard, linguist and author of Um…Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders. Erard also notes that filler words generally appear in one out of ten words we speak.
If filler words are so frequent, then why do we get so annoyed when we hear them as audience members? The reason is fluency. We tend to notice when someone’s speech is not fluent and does not flow. When we listen to speakers, whether we are in a live audience, listening to a webinar or podcast, or even watching TV, we have expectations for what good speech should sound like. Using too many filler words interrupts the flow of one’s speech and creates the perception that the speaker is not confident, does not know his/her material, or is not prepared to deliver. Additionally, using too many filler words can lower a speaker’s credibility and likeability.
How can a speaker eliminate, or at the very least, reduce the number of filler words spoken?
1. Awareness. The first step in eliminating or reducing filler words in your speech is to become aware they are used. In my experience working with clients and students, most people are not aware they are using filler words, or with the frequency with which they are spoken. Filler words are most likely to come out between your thoughts or ideas when you are speaking.
2. Record yourself. One of the best tools to discover if you are using too many filler words is to use a voice recorder when you rehearse or practice your speech. This heightens awareness of when and how often they are coming out.
3. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Rehearsing multiple times allows you to really know your content. Nervousness brings out filler words, and knowing your content reduces your nervousness. Slow down your rate of speech when rehearsing, and pause between thoughts or ideas.
4. Get comfortable with pauses. Pauses, those small moments of silence during your speech, allows your audience to absorb and consolidate the information you have just given them. Relax and don’t feel like you have to fill every second on stage with something audible. Pausing between your spoken ideas and words will enable you to appear more poised, confident, credible, and you will essentially, own the room.
What methods have you found helpful for the elimination of filler words?