It’s, Um, Like Not Good to Use Filler Words When Speaking
Remember your fourth-grade teacher reminding students not to keep saying “um” when presenting a book report to the class? While speaking skills do tend to get better with practice over the years, it is still very easy as adults to slip filler words into speeches and conversations.
According to Claire Herring, a speech pathologist and co-creator of DaisyBrains.com (an online brain fitness workout for women), we use words such as “um” and “like” because we are uncomfortable with taking a pause or because we don’t want to lose the floor to someone else. “In today’s fast-talking world, speakers often interrupt each other to wedge themselves into a conversation. One way speakers avoid this is to never stop talking.”
Unfortunately, as anyone on the listening end will attest, filler words can be annoying. They also give off a vibe that the speaker lacks confidence or isn’t really knowledgeable about the subject.
Herring recommends that people dependent on fillers practice the art of the pause. “Stand up in front of a mirror and begin to talk about something off the top of your head. When you run out of something to say, simply take a breath. Feel the pause. When your next thought comes to your lips, continue on.”
She also suggests paying attention to great speakers and listening to their speech patterns. “Perhaps they speak slowly or more forcefully. There is a good chance that they speak less and listen more. Individuals who spend less time trying to hold the floor and more time preparing to make a solid point with fewer words are held in higher regard.”
Finally, be patient. Old habits die hard, but the confidence and opportunities that arise from being a good speaker are worth the effort.