Do you ever find yourself using filler words like “um”, “ah”, or “like” when you’re speaking? These words can detract from the clarity and effectiveness of your message, and may even make you come across as less confident or knowledgeable. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to eliminate filler words and improve the impact of your speech.
Before we dive into strategies for eliminating filler words, it’s important to understand what they are and why we use them. Filler words are essentially verbal placeholders that we use when we need a moment to gather our thoughts or formulate a response. They’re often used unconsciously, and can be difficult to eliminate if we’re not aware of them.
In addition to being distracting, filler words can also make us appear less confident or knowledgeable. They can create a sense of hesitation or uncertainty, even if we know our subject matter well. For this reason, it’s important to make an effort to eliminate them from our speech.
So how can you eliminate them?
Tip 1: Practice, Practice, Practice
One of the best ways to eliminate filler words from your speech is to practice speaking without them. This means becoming more conscious of when you’re using them, and making a deliberate effort to pause instead.
It can be helpful to record yourself speaking and then listen back to identify any filler words you’re using. You can also practice speaking in front of a mirror or with a friend, and ask them to point out any filler words they hear.
The more you practice speaking without filler words, the more natural it will become. Over time, you’ll find that you’re able to speak more confidently and clearly without relying on verbal crutches.
Tip 2: Use Pauses Instead
Instead of using filler words, try using pauses to gather your thoughts or emphasize key points. Pauses can be a powerful tool in public speaking, as they give your audience time to process what you’re saying and can help create a sense of tension or anticipation.
To use pauses effectively, try to identify the key points in your speech where you want to pause for emphasis. You can also use pauses to create a sense of rhythm or pacing in your speech. For example, you might pause briefly between points to allow your audience to digest each one before moving on.
Tip 3: Slow Down
Another common cause of filler words is speaking too quickly. When we speak quickly, we often use filler words to give ourselves time to think. By slowing down your speech, you’ll give yourself more time to formulate your thoughts and reduce the need for filler words.
To slow down your speech, try taking a few deep breaths before you begin speaking. You can also try speaking at a slightly lower pitch or volume, which can help you to speak more deliberately and clearly.
Tip 4: Be Prepared
One of the biggest causes of filler words is not being prepared. When we’re unsure of what we’re going to say, we’re more likely to use filler words to fill the gap.
To avoid this, make sure you’re well-prepared for your speech or presentation. This means having a clear outline of what you want to say, as well as any supporting materials or notes you need.
You can also practice your speech several times beforehand, so that you feel confident and prepared when it comes time to deliver it.
Tip 5: Embrace Silence
Finally, it’s important to remember that silence can be a powerful tool in public speaking. By allowing moments of silence in your speech, you can create a sense of anticipation and emphasis, and give your audience time to reflect on what you’ve said.
To use silence effectively, try to identify the key moments in your speech where a moment of silence would be impactful. For example, you might pause for a few seconds after making a particularly powerful statement, or after asking a rhetorical question.
It’s important to remember that silence doesn’t mean you’ve lost your place or forgotten what you were going to say. Instead, it’s a deliberate pause that can help to emphasize your message and create a sense of connection with your audience.
Bonus Tip: Get Feedback
One of the best ways to improve your public speaking skills is to get feedback from others. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to listen to your speech and provide feedback on your use of filler words. They may be able to identify patterns or habits that you weren’t aware of, and provide insights on how you can improve.
Additionally, consider joining a public speaking group or taking a class on public speaking. These resources can provide valuable feedback and support as you work to improve your skills.
Eliminating filler words from your speech is an important step in improving your public speaking skills. By practicing, using pauses effectively, slowing down, being prepared, embracing silence, and getting feedback, you can become a more confident and effective speaker.
Remember that it takes time and practice to eliminate filler words from your speech, but the effort is well worth it.