When I was a young, wanna-be professional speaker, I had a problem:
Every time I spoke, my goal was to give a perfect speech.
This was a symptom of my insecurity and inferiority complex. One area where this often reared its ugly head was in the area of filler words. My favorites were “um,” “err”, and “so.” I obsessed on eliminating them.
Public speaking can be a daunting task for many people. The pressure to deliver a professional presentation can cause high levels of anxiety. This can lead to the use of filler words.
Avoid The Myth
In my early days of speaking, I bought into a myth:
“You should never use ‘killer filler’ words.”
These words (or noises) are too distracting.
Not necessarily. Overuse of them is and hurts your credibility.
But, occasional use of them is normal and should not be cause for concern.
These words are a natural part of human speech. They serve as a signal to the listener that the speaker is still thinking or searching for the right words to say.
In his article “Does It Hurt To Say Um? ’Nicholas Christenfeld addresses this issues. He cites one study that showed:
Occasional filler words make a speaker appear more relatable and trustworthy to an audience.
What If You Need More Time?
What should you do when you need to gather your thoughts or buy yourself some time?
Use silence. This also gives your listeners a quick break. It allows them to think about the implication of your last point or question.
Or, it let’s them know you’re changing direction.
Yet, if from time-to-time you sneak in a brief “err” or “um” you aren’t hurting your impact.
When Are You More Prone To Use Filler Words?
This is more likely to happen when you’re not familiar with the topic or are delivering an impromptu talk.
It’s true that excessive use of filler words will be a distraction and make you appear unprepared. To minimize filler words, practice your presentation until you’ve internalized the flow. Have a clear and logical structure to follow.
Additionally, be aware of the filler words you are more prone to use. Know how to be aware of them before you say them:
• Listen to recordings to be aware of your favorite fillers
• Take a deep breath before starting a sentence
• Get comfortable with silence. Practice pausing to gather your thoughts
An occasional use of filler words is a normal part of everyday speaking. Don’t worry. Don’t obsess on eliminating all filler words.
Aim instead on internalizing the flow of ideas in your talk. When you’re comfortable with that, you’ll reduce your filler words.
Your goal in speaking should never be perfection. People don’t connect with or trust “perfect” people.
Aim for connection. You develop this with practice and preparation. Know your material well enough so that you can focus on your audience.
Do this and you’ll bring a memorable and meaningful message to them.
Identify Your Filler Words WITHOUT Feeling Intimidated In Front Of An Audience
How would you like to identify the words and sounds which may be distracting your audience?
Until now, it’s been difficult to pinpoint these in “real time” while you’re speaking.
Speaking CPR’s new speech diagnosis tool gives you specific and measurable feedback. It shows you your strengths and areas where you need improvement. It also gives you insights into your use of filler or meaningless words.
With the push of one button and a computer camera, you can receive INSTANT evaluations. You’ll speed up your speaking growth and leave greater impact with more people.
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