Getting Rid of the ‘Filler Word’


By Morag Barrett on April 28, 2015

Posted by Morag Barrett | April 28, 2015Getting Rid of the ‘Filler Word’Last week I wrote about the scourge of the filler word. Those ums, ahs, you know, ‘like’ that creep into our conversation and take away from our communication effectiveness.  As promised, here are 5 steps to breaking the habit.1. Self-AwarenessListen to yourself talk. Pay attention to what is coming out of your mouth and anticipate the pauses. Think the ‘like’ don’t say the like! Do you even have a filler word or sound that needs to be addressed? If you don’t know or aren’t sure then move to step 2.2. Ask for feedback.Ask an ally, someone you trust, for their opinion on how often you say your filler word, or to let you know what your filler word is if you aren’t sure. Is it distracting? If they say ‘yes’ then you can consider enlisting them to help you stop. By asking them to listen for the word in meetings that they attend with you and give you ongoing feedback on whether the volume / frequency is diminishing.3. The power of the pause.Learn to embrace silence. You don’t have to fill every second of a conversation. Allowing your statements to land, give space for others to process and hear what you have said is way more powerful than, like, you know, keeping going!4. Practice (ideally guided practice).I’m often brought in to work with senior leaders who are preparing for a major presentation, whether at a conference, an internal employee all hands meeting, or maybe a presentation to investors. As a professional speaker I bring real-world experience and understand the stress of communicating critical messages to large audiences.What I have noticed is that the ratio of filler words are inversely proportional to the amount of practice.when practice goes up – filler words go downwhen practice goes down (i.e. winging it) – the number of filler words goes up.Don’t risk undermining your message by not practicing your delivery. Ideally guided practice, with your ally, or with an experience coach like myself!5. W.A.I.T.I love this acronym. It stands for “Why Am I Talking” and is probably the most powerful piece of advice I have for you. SLOW DOWN.WAIT and listen to what is being said by the other person.WAIT and think about what you want to say.and then speak slowly. Not patronizingly or painfully slowly, but slow enough that you can hear and think about what you are saying and what will follow.Apply one or all of these tactics and I can guarantee that your four-letter filler words will diminish and your communication credibility will increase.So, you know, like, what are you thinking? What advice do you have to remove the scourge of the filler word?Related ArticlesTags »communicationEmotional Intelligence Share1
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