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What Are Filler Words and How to Avoid Them?

Um…

Ah…

So…

You know…

Like… like… like…


Have you ever caught yourself saying those words repeatedly while speaking in public? We often use them unconsciously when we are nervous or do not know what to say. As a result, we add the ums and ahs – also known as filler words – to fill the “empty spaces.”


Linguists say that we tend to use fillers to allow ourselves to catch up with our thoughts – this is also called the hesitation phenomenon.



Are filler words really THAT bad?


Since it’s something natural - why must we try to use less filler words? After all, everyone does it… right?


1.Distract the audience

Listeners would find it hard to focus on your points if you use fillers every third word! Imagine delivering a speech like this:


“So, I would like to persuade you to… um… watch this movie that was just released… ah… last week… called ‘Dungeons and Dragons’.”.


Now, if you were the listener wouldn’t you be tired? Exactly.



2.Diminish your confidence and credibility

When listeners have to filter your message themselves, it means you have already lost them. Excessive use of filler words would make you seem like you do not know what you are saying; hence, the audience would doubt your credibility.


Fret not, there are ways to combat this habit!



Here are 3 ways to avoid filler words:

1.Prepare your speech

Practice really does make a difference - especially if you would like to deliver your message effectively and fluently without the use of fillers. Preparing beforehand will help you be less nervous and become more comfortable with your points, resulting in you using less fillers! Besides practicing your points, you will simultaneously plan your pauses too.


2.Don't forget to breathe

One of the many faults of speakers is speaking too fast; they end up rapping! In relation to the above-point, you must pace yourself in order for the audience to comprehend your speech. Speaking too fast will not only make you appear more nervous, it will also make it hard for you to organize your thoughts; hence, the increase in fillers!


3.Master your pauses

Did you know that pauses are strategic ways to let the listeners gather their thoughts? Not only that, incorporating pauses effectively can also deliver a dramatic effect and help you smoothly transition to a new point.



Practice is the key

No matter what you are trying to achieve, practice will always be the key to improving your speaking skills. The more you rehearse, the more comfortable you will be with the way you deliver your speech. One of the many ways to embrace your speech is by practicing in front of a mirror! Do this and you might as well kick word fillers to the trash!

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