So… Um… Like, do you find yourself using, you know, too many filler words?
We all do it, especially when we’re nervous. Psychologists tell us that in high stress situations we use these words to avoid awkward silences. In fact, for most of us it takes a conscious effort to avoid it.
But eliminating filler words from your speech patterns, particularly at work, helps project confidence, instill trust, and sound professional.
How to Avoid Filler Words (and Sound Professional)
Verbal filler are words such as “like” or “um” dropped into the middle of sentences, often when searching for the right word. In casual conversation it is, at best, mildly annoying. In your career space, however, it can have devastating effects that hold you back. Filler words can make your bosses, colleagues, and contacts think you’re unprepared. Or even worse: unsure.
So, like… you better get that verbal filler under control (sorry). This infographic from QuidCorner will help you get started.
As you’ll learn here, slowing down is a powerful way to add gravity to your speech and give you time to make better word choices. As the infographic emphasizes, some people use “like” to make a stronger point: “He was, like, so scared,” for example. (Of course, this same advice is easily applied to any filler word.)
Our reality is, however, that English is a rich language. And in a professional setting, you want to find a word that’s strong enough to carry the emphasis by itself: “He was terrified” is far better use of the English language than “He was, like, so… um… scared.”
As you read on, you’ll learn seven ways to avoid filler words. Pausing before you speak –and speaking at a slower pace, for example. Our favorite piece of advice on how to speak in a more professional manner? Turning to speaking professionals for inspiration. Specifically, sports commentators. After all, they talk for hours at a time and never come close to uttering a verbal filler. Through practice, they’ve learned when to pause for thought and how to use their voice and vocabulary for emphasis.
There’s no crime in talking the way you naturally do. But sounding professional means learning to avoid those filler words!
Also published on Medium.