“Uhh…umm…” – How to Avoid Using Filler Words in Speech

For many of us, the hardest things to improve as a public speaker is reducing or eliminating the use of filler words such as “ummm”, “uhhhh”, “like”, “right” and “you know”. While you can still have a great presentation if you use these words to connect your thoughts, being aware of how often you say them is pretty key to increasing your mastery. Why? Because listeners like things that flow and sound comforting to the ear. When you hear someone constantly saying “you know” or “ummm”, your start hearing these filler words and as a result stop listening to the actual message.

TV anchors do a great job of not using filler words.  When speakers don’t use these words, you may not pick up on this as the listener, however, if you do hear a presentation whereby there are long moments of ummm or uhhhh, it will be distracting and you can definitely lose your audience for periods of time.

Most Common Filler Words in Public Speaking:

  • Umm…
  • Uhh…
  • Yenno/you know
  • Like
  • Right

The most practical way to reduce their use, is by record yourself giving a live speech, and analyzing where you need to improve. If you are really being mindful of not saying these words you will initially find your flow might sound choppier as your brain is trying to do two things at once; deliver your speech and also listen for these filler words. That’s ok. With practice you’ll find that you’ll get faster at recognizing you are about to use a filler word and you’ll get faster at adjusting as you go. Over time, you just will stop using them. As you start improving this skill, just insert a bit of a pause in your flow instead of the filler word and that’s a good practical way to tackle this. Eventually, with more and more practice the pauses will get shorter and if you can get to the final level you’ll be using these moments to draw more attention to a key moment in your speech be either changing your intonation or using varying lengths of pauses. 

The Beyond VR virtual reality app is a great tool for both recording speeches and showing how often you use certain filler words. After each presentation that you give within the Beyond VR world, our speech detection technology delivers an accurate score on filler words, showcasing which ones you used most. Tangible feedback like this is the key to eliminating filler words all together while you speak.

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