Um, er, ah, eh, like, y’know

filler wordsFastCo just published a nice article on whether interviewees who say ‘like’ alot are jeopardising their chances of getting a job.

One of the biggest challenges we find trainees face when improving their presentation skills is their use of these  ‘filler words’ – the ums, ers, ahs, erms, ehs, likes – y’know.

Are filler words really such a big problem?  Should we really be working to drive them out of our speech?

The odd one or two are fine.  But it’s when your audience starts to notice them, when they get in the way of the useful stuff, that’s when you need to consider whether your filler words are sabotaging you.

The audience has a tough enough job absorbing what we’re saying. When we clutter it up with useless words it’s just one more thing they have to wade through to reach our message.

The good news is that it’s very simple to cut out filler words from your presentations.

And here’s the secret:

Speak at half, or even a third of your usual speed.

Filler words are just a sign that your brain is trying to catch up with your mouth.  It throws them in to give itself time to think.

If you give your brain the thinking time it needs, the filler words will disappear.  Instantly.

Where’s the proof?

It’s proven to us every day in our presentation training and presentation coaching courses.

Initially we use specific exercises to help our trainees get the hang of it, but after that, the fix is immediate.

So if you’re presenting to someone, or even being interviewed by someone who isn’t part of the ‘like’ generation, you now know what to do.

1 comments
Karen Chapple
Karen Chapple

It actually really turns me off when I hear 'like' in every sentence, its a very bad habit that I'm pleased you can say can be cured!