Dump the Fillers
Fillers are those words or sounds that interrupt continuity of thought. Common ones are um, uh, er, ah, like, okay, right, and you know.
The habit of using fillers in speaking is a difficult one to break but it can be done. I was once told by a member of the group I was addressing that I had said ‘now’ 9 times in a short talk. I was surprised but thankful that she had drawn my attention to an annoying habit I had picked up and which was interfering with the message I was trying to get across.
Ways to deal with fillers:
- Be aware of the fillers you use. Listen as you speak or record a short piece and analyse it. What fillers do you use?
- Listen to some callers on talk back radio and notice how frequently fillers are used.
- Deliberately slow your speaking a little and leave a space while you move from one phrase to the next.
- Don’t be afraid of a little silence.
- Deliberately use a pause which can emphasise the next words, build suspense or highlight ideas.
This is an ongoing battle because as soon as you break one habit you may have picked up another. Keep monitoring how you speak with the aim of developing a fluent expression of ideas.