Using filler words is one of the most common ways your speech fluidity is stifled. You’ve heard it in others, but are you aware when you are doing it yourself?
Let’s start with the definition. When you use filler words, it just means you are filling natural pauses in your speech pattern with something other than words that continue your concrete thought. Instead of a pause or a blank space, you fill that with a word, a sound or even a phrase. Some of the more common filler words and phrases are like, ah, um, so, do you know what I mean?, I’m like… some people even fill that space with a smacking noise.
Using filler words is a normal part of speech, but if excessive, it keeps your listener from hearing your message. The first way to find out if you have this habit, you need to do some self-assessment. Listen to a recording you’ve done - or record something new if you don’t have one. Make a list of the things you’d like to work on. If it’s filler words, Tami shares some tips to teach yourself to stop doing this.
The first option is to practice closing your mouth during a pause to remove the ability for any sound to come out during that pause. A second way to break this habit is to enlist the help of a friend who will remind you when you use filler words, Toastmasters actually has someone at the back of the room ringing a bell they call the “ah bell” - some chapters even collect a 25 cent fine for each filler word used during a speech. If you are by yourself, tap your leg or your wrist each time you use a filler word. This will help with awareness and you will retrain your brain and your mouth to stop using filler words.
It takes some conscious work and practice, but in time you will break yourself of this habit and have a voice that is heard!
If you’d like to join Tami’s group coaching program called A Confident Voice, go to aconfidentvoice.com and join the waitlist!