Stop Using Filler Words – Try Silence Instead
A habit that detracts from the effectiveness of any speech, presentation or interview, is the insertion of filler words. These fillers may be single words, phrases or even sounds.
They distract an audience in a similar way that a small detour affects a road trip in your car. The speaker suddenly moves off message for just a moment or two – which is enough to lose the audience. Or at least irritate them to distraction.
As mentioned these fillers may take various forms and some common examples include:
Ummm – this is probably the example we hear most as speakers stumble through a speech, or interview. The speaker is not really thinking what to say next, it is usually simply a habit into which they have fallen. This habit is easily remedied.
Look – I remember John Howard as Prime Minister employed this habit a great deal. It sounds like my old school teachers when I wasn’t paying attention (a usual state of being for me then). It is usually a word that allows the speaker time to think a little in an interview, but it is not required and it grates.
Like I Said – Oh dear, this one is even longer than the previous two examples and often does not refer to a previous statement. The presenter who suffers extensively from this habit is Mark Bosnich on Fox Sports. Let me declare here that I have great affection and admiration for Bozza, who demonstrates the conviction he has for making football in Australia better. All power to him. Yet he uses this filler phrase over and over again to a high level of annoyance. Yet it often does not refer to something he aid previously.
Going Forward – This one really bugs me as it is simply redundant in any speech or interview. What other way can we go but forward in time. If you have an alternative please let me know – you must be H G Wells. Just drop it.
Silence as the Alternative
As I mentioned in a previous blog on the 10 Quick Tips for Better Presentations, you should employ regular pauses in your presentations. Short pauses can replace all of these filler words and phrases and have a profound impact on improving the delivery of your messages.
Why? Because it gives your audience time to think about what you just said and to prepare for your next message. Pauses are such a powerful tool for you in reaching your audience and maintaining their interest – much more powerful than filler words.
So drop the fillers. Practice without them and use pauses instead; but if you need help in ridding yourself of them I can certainly provide you with a cure.