Have you ever watched a recording of yourself speaking and discovered you say “uhh” or “umm” constantly? Don’t worry, you’re definitely not the only one.
Using crutch or filler words is incredibly common, but the good news is there are ways to reduce the usage of these words and sounds that don’t add any value to our speeches.
The first step to fix the problem of using filler words is to have a level of awareness what your own crutch words are. For some people it’s “umm.” For others it’s “like” or “so.”
At Toastmasters meetings there’s an entire role called the 'ahh counter.” This ahh counter’s responsibility is to listen carefully throughout the entire meeting and make note of all the filler words that each speaker uses, then deliver a report at the end of the meeting.
Having someone tell you how often you use certain filler words is an incredibly effective way of fixing the problem.
If you’re unable to attend a Toastmasters meeting, you can always ask a friend or family member to listen carefully while you deliver a speech to catch crutch words that you use. Alternatively, you can record yourself giving your speech on your phone and watch it back, keeping an ear out for unnecessary filler words.
Once you know what crutch words you tend to say most often, you will be far more likely to catch yourself saying these words in future speeches. Every time you hear them, it will act as a reminder to try not to say these words in the future.
The second step is to embrace silence.
One of the reasons we use filler words is because we feel awkward having silence between sentences. While silence may feel uncomfortable for us as speakers, it’s important to know that it doesn’t sound awkward to the audience.
Listening to a speaker who doesn’t use crutch words is a refreshing experience. When “uhh” or “umm” is said constantly, it can be distracting and take away from the speech. Once you are aware of this, it’s easier to embrace silence.
The final thing you can do to limit the number of filler words you use as a speaker is to slow down your speech. When we are speaking quickly, our brain is racing to think of the next thing we’re going to talk about; therefore, it is more likely that filler words will creep into our speech without us knowing.
By slowing down, you can be purposeful with your speech and focus on stringing sentences together seamlessly without adding unnecessary crutch words.
I’m a big believer that the elimination of filler words is one of the single most powerful things you can do to level up as a speaker and earn the respect of your audience.
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This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.