So What Exactly Are Filler Words?
Fillers are those empty, surplus to need sounds, words and phrases that pad our sentences without adding any additional meaning.
You can liken fillers to empty calories – we eat them but they offer no nourishment.
They are those meaningless stammers we slip into the conversation. You can most easily identify a filler word if it’s a part of speech that is commonly said by word of mouth and almost never written.
They are often irrelevant transitory words we throw into the mix as we grapple for the right word or gather our thoughts.
Most of us slip in a filler word or phrase from time to time, particularly when we’re nervous or uncertain. Unfortunately they can erode our credibility when they distract our listener from our message, or leave our listeners with the impression we don’t really know what we’re talking about.
You may not be aware of the fillers you use but you’d soon notice if a television presenter said: “Well, it is time um the community sort of had a stay, ya know.”
You’d also notice if a sports commentator described the play with: “Johnson, um, retrieves the ball from ah Smith – who passes it to Simon who sort of tackles…..”
So fillers can strip us of our credibility, interrupt our vocal fluency, and distract, even bore, our listeners.
You sound more confident and knowledgeable when your speech is fluent and devoid of lots of filler.
What Fillers Do You Use?
Most of us use fillers from time to time. Record yourself in conversation or when you next speak at a gathering. As you listen to your recording, listen for the words, phrases and sounds you habitually use but which add no value.
- How often are you inserting fillers?
- What fillers do you use habitually?
- Are they distracting?
- Are they undermining your credibility?
How to Avoid Fillers
Prepare – Practice your business presentations; and rehearse aloud for a job interview.
Ensure you have adequate rest – The more rested you, are the sharper your brain will be and the easier it will be to think quickly and articulate your thoughts without stumbling. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted during conversation – remain in the moment.
Take your time – Reduce your speed.
Make the most of pause – Replace the filler word(s) with silence. Use the time you might ordinarily spend on a filler word to collect your thoughts. Enjoy the silence. A pause allows your audience time to reflect on what you have said and adds variety and interest to your delivery.
Monitor your progress, and be patient – Continue to record yourself often to review your progress.