Reducing Filler Words Like Um, Uh, & Ah

Many of us struggle with eliminating filler words like um, uh, and ah. In fact, I still let these words slip when talking. The good news is that I’ve been able to reduce them dramatically and I want to help you do the same.

What Are Filler Words?

They’re ubiquitous, insidious verbal hiccups-uttered by most speakers, in most speeches, most days. We ALL use them.

There’s three types…

1. Filler sounds = um, uh, ah, mm, err
2. Filler words = basically, actually, literally, like
3. Filler phrases = you know, I think

The Problem

From a non-verbal perspective-we appear unsure at best. Worst case, people think we’re being evasive. Fillers can completely weaken our credibility.

Assess How Often You Use Fillers

You need to first know what you’re struggling with. There are three ways you can do this.

1. Record yourself when practicing. We all have devices with some basic ability to record either audio or video – I personally prefer video for practice. Just record a 5 minute portion of your presentation so you can keep it manageable. Not only will you be able to hear the fillers you’re habitually using, but your body language and possible awkward gestures.

2. Record yourself when giving the actual presentation. One pro tip is to use an audio recorder during a presentation. It is less intrusive than setting up a video camera and allows you to capture your delivery for review afterwards. It will also give you the opportunity to record audience feedback – like when you say something that makes them laugh or when something falls flat. Most smartphones have an audio recording app that is perfect for this.

3. Have a trusted colleague or friend track and provide feedback. This option can be very powerful because you’re getting the perspective
of someone you trust to be critical yet constructive with their feedback. We all are our own worst critics, so while recording yourself is effective – you will likely hate watching or listening to the recording. This approach can circumvent that issue

Question

What is the typical filler word or phrase you struggle with? Share your answer on Twitter or Facebook.

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