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How to Stop Saying “Um” and Other Fillers When Speaking

Effective communication plays an important role in exchanging ideas and opinions in the workplace. It saves time, money, and eliminates confusion. However, most people use fillers during conversations, which can be a distraction to effective communication. Filler words are certain phrases and sounds used to fill up space in writing, speaking, or conversing without adding any substance. Some common fillers are like, um, you know, totally, literally, well, you see, I mean, I guess, and many more. In this article, let us explore ways to remove these fillers from your vocabulary.

Why Do You Use Fillers?

So, why do we use filler words? People use these words to fill gaps between sentences or hide nervousness. It is common to use fillers while speaking. Most people believe that fillers are important for a speaker as it makes them sound natural. Fillers allow you to take a pause and consider what to say next. However, using fillers frequently in conversation might create a problem for your audience in understanding your ideas. It negatively affects your audience and their listening abilities, making it difficult for you to exchange your thoughts.

The Trouble with Um and Other Fillers

As we have already seen, fillers create a negative impact on your audience. But how exactly? What are the problems with fillers? Let us see how they create a mess for the audience.

You need to keep your audience engaged in a conversation to express yourself clearly. However, when you use excessive fillers, your audience is less interested in your words as fillers come in the way of emotional stories or research, making your audience least interested in hearing you.

The audience likes to believe that you are acting naturally and real during one-to-one conversations. People use fillers during casual conversation, but it becomes a problem when you bring them on the microphone. This makes you sound nervous, less confident, and distracted rather than real.

If you want your audience to listen to you, you have to make yourself logical and clear. However, excessive fillers crutch your words and make it difficult for your audience to catch the important parts of your speech. Too many fillers mean they are likely to concentrate on other cognitive tasks.

4 Ways to Stop Saying Um and Other Fillers

We know that the excessive use of fillers is a distraction to effective conversation. The good news is that you can remove fillers from your vocabulary with simple tips. So, let’s take a look at these tips.

  • Hear Yourself

Record yourself giving a speech and listen to yourself. If you hear how many times you say “um” in a sentence, you might cringe. However, this is the first step in removing filler words from your dictionary. Notice where you tend to use fillers, and gradually try to reduce the number of filler words in your vocabulary.

  • Make Eye Contact

Another way not to show your audience your nervousness is to make eye contact with them. Moreover, it is awkward to say “um” while making eye contact with listeners. So, the next time, look at your audience, and it will reduce your urge to say filler words.

Apart from this, when you go blank, don’t stare at a window, but refer to your notes.

  • Organize Your Information

One thing is certain – we often ramble during our speeches because we have not organized our information and ideas. Experts recommend framing your next sentence way ahead of speaking them. When you frame your sentences, you won’t need to take a pause, and this will reduce your fillers. Moreover, when you focus on the rhythm of the sentence, the urge to say filler words will disappear.

  • Transitions Go a Long Way!

One of the main functions of filler words is to let your audience know that you’re not done speaking yet and need a little time to gather and organize your thoughts. There is an alternative to this. Have some ready transitions to help you avoid excessive use of filler words. You can use transitions such as “Let’s move on to,” “Another important topic is,” “Let’s transition to talking about,” and many others. These transitions feel natural and prevent you from using filler words unnecessarily.

Embrace the Pause to Stop Saying “Um”

You can also turn this weakness into your strength by replacing these filler words with pauses. Great public speakers use pauses as a medium to gather and organize their thoughts. Understandably, pauses are not easy to embrace for an individual. However, you should remember that the pause feels like an eternity in your mind; in reality, it’s just a few seconds. The well-placed pause helps in three ways:

  1. A pause helps you get back on track if your mind goes blank. However, the pause should not be more than 5 seconds.
  2. It is important to pause before starting, especially for people who are anxious due to the fear of public speaking. It helps you calm down.
  3. Pauses are not only used to gather your thoughts. You can use a pause to create suspense among the audience. This will make your audience more engaged with you.
In a Nutshell

It requires self-confidence for an individual to stop using fillers during their conversations. However, approximately 50% of people suffer from the fear of public speaking. This fear and anxiety are the main reasons people use excessive fillers in their speech. It is important to increase your self-confidence and morale while giving a presentation or speech. This is why Orator Academy offers courses for public speaking that will train you on how to improve your public speaking skills. The courses are designed by experts and are suitable for both beginners and intermediates. Moreover, the expert coach will guide you at every step and provide you with tips and improvements. So, enroll yourself in Orator Academy and improve your skills. Visit the official website of Orator Academy to learn more!

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