Think back to your all-time favorite speaker – maybe it’s a speaker at a TED Talk or your favorite comedian. Now, think about someone who could really use some speech assistance. What are some of the things that separate the great speakers from the adequate speakers in your mind? One thing is for sure, using as few filler words as possible will certainly help your message to be better received.
Whether you’re public speaking or discussing an assignment with a co-worker, using filler words, such as “like” and “um,” can severely diminish your speaking credibility and weaken your message. If you’re one of the many people who use an excess of filler words, here are some of the building blocks to getting your speech back on track.
It’s true; the first step is realizing you have a problem. One of the best ways to determine if your speech can use a little help is to record yourself and focus on how you deliver your message. If you don’t have the time to record and listen to yourself, make an honest effort to focus on your word choices for a week and listen carefully for any filler words you might be using.
Replace filler words with transition words
When you start recognizing yourself using “like,” “um” and “uh” constantly in everyday speech, prepare yourself with an arsenal of transition words to replace them. Make a conscious effort to replace your filler friends with new words and phrases – “not only,” “likewise,” “furthermore” and “in addition to,” for example. If you’re having a hard time thinking of appropriate transition words to use, here are some to get you started.
Think before you speak
When in doubt, shut the mouth! It may seem a bit awkward at first, but taking a moment to analyze your thoughts before you speak can help you prepare to answer questions and make statements without throwing in filler words left and right.
Make eye contact
Eyes are the windows to a man’s soul… and better speaking habits! If you’re still finding yourself using too many filler words, try making more eye contact with your audience. This may seem difficult, especially if making eye contact with audience members makes you nervous. On the contrary, when you lock into sincere eye contact with an individual, it becomes more awkward for you to say “like” and “um.”
These are just a few simple tips, but with time, practice and patience, you’ll be amazed by the improvement in your speech. Have any other tips or tricks to help eliminate filler words from the vocabulary? Leave them in the comments below.