Insights & Media

Insights & Media

3 Tips to Avoid ‘Filler Words’

March 24

When many students speak (and adults too!) they use ‘Filler Words,’ such as ‘like,’ ‘um,’ ‘uh,’ and ‘eh.’  The below video (VPN required) is particularly challenging to listen to as the NFL player Ellis Lankster uses ‘like,’ and ‘um’ so frequently that his message is completely unintelligible.  We commend Ellis for even having the courage to do a post-game interview! (Something that many players refuse to do).  However, with some speech coaching and presentation practice, the majority of these ‘filler words’ could have been avoided.

Speaking with lots of filler words is not a great way to persuade an audience.  Learn how to speak without filler words below the video!

3 Key Tips to Avoid Filler Words
1) Slow Down!

The key to removing filler words can be as simple as slowing down your speech, your rate of delivery.  at LearningLeaders, we like to think of the ‘Tailgating Principle.’  Much like cars on a highway, you need to leave space between your words, otherwise they crash into each other.

Tailgating Cartoon Represents the Speaking Principle of Tailgating

One of the key reasons that we use filler words is that we don’t know what to say next.  We need to let our brain catch up to the speed of our voice, so a filler word inexplicably comes out of our mouth.  If you can always think of the next sentence, you’ll eliminate nearly all of your filler words.
2) Take a Breath!

Most humans can only speak comfortably and audibly as we exhale.  Thus, if you find yourself saying ‘like,’ ‘um,’ or ‘uh,’ frequently during your conversations or speeches, LearningLeaders coaches recommend that you breathe in when you feel that you might use a filler word.  At first, this may seem like an awkward thing to do, as there will be a short duration of silence during your conversation or speech.  That’s okay!  Not only do we recommend that more people should pause more often while speaking anyways (both to collect their own thoughts and to allow the audience/interlocutor to digest what’s already been said), but a short breath in will prevent you from using filler words.  Once you’ve broken the habit of using filler words, the breaths will go away naturally!
3) Pinch Yourself!

While someone else is speaking and you hear them using filler words, pinch yourself in an inconspicuous way.  You certainly don’t want to make another person (especially friend or family member) uncomfortable, but the simple act of pinching yourself reminds you of the pain other people might experience when you speak with too many filler words.  By beginning to recognize when others use filler words, you will naturally begin to steer clear of them during your own speech and conversations.

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