Word fillers are meaningless words and sounds we add into our speech, usually when we are thinking or hesitating. These range from sounds such as um and uh to short phrases such as you know and sort of.  While it is practically impossible for most of us to completely eliminate such fillers, we can certainly gain awareness and reduce our use of them. And what a joy it is to listen to someone who stops when they are thinking and speaks only when they know what they are going to say.

The following article gives you 6 tips on how to cut back on fillers.


Word Fillers & uh… What To Do About Them

By Lynda Katz Wilner

Word fillers or verbal tics are often the nemesis of many speakers. Unfortunately, they detract from our message and create unnecessary noise. When the audience begins to count the “ums,” “uhs,” “so’s,” “okays,” “likes,” “ya knows,” “basically,” “kinda’s,” or whatever redundant sound, word, or phrase is in the message, there is a problem. Why do we use word fillers? It can be any of these reasons:

  • Lack of preparation
  • Lack of confidence
  • Inability to find the correct word
  • Nervousness
  • A signal that you have not yet finished your thought
  • A transition to the next idea

The real question is, “What can we do about it?”

Don’t panic! An occasional “um” will not destroy your message. However, as the frequency increases, the clarity of the message will become obscured and the audience will become distracted. This is probably the most common concern I hear from my clients.

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