Filler words

Sort of
Uhhh
Like
Kind of
Right
Basically
Honestly
Uhm

These are the filler words I’ve found myself using in order of frequency.

I noticed last week in a conversation with a wiser acquaintance that he used no filler words. None. Zilch. And, this was a normal conversation. We spoke about a bunch of topics and I asked him a couple of questions that definitely made him think. Even then, he spoke with a clarity that felt inspiring.

So, I’ve resolved to cut out filler words. They’ve largely seeped into my language out of habit and association. This journey will likely take a long while as it means undoing some very old habits.

But, it has begun with an increased awareness around how I speak. And, I’m excited about growing through this process of learning to think and communicate with clarity.

0 thoughts on “Filler words

  1. Sooo great to see you capture this! You are so awesome that you can notice this by yourself, it’s really hard! I didn’t notice I used filler words for a long time, well, because English is not my native language, and I didn’t have a good sense of how my English speaking goes. After I started working in the U.S. My coworker introduced me to Toastmasters, a public speaking practice organization, I joined my local club. They have an “ah counter”, who uses a buzzer to buzz you when you use those words. I got buzzed so many times in the beginning because I tended to say “um” a lot when I think. The buzz made me aware of them. They suggest we simply replace those filler words with a pause, aka “swallow” the filler words 🙂 it worked! Now I speak with much fewer filler words and sound more confident now.

  2. It took me a long time, and I am still working at it. Few tips that helped:

    1) Understanding Silence – We are scared of silence and want to say something. However, silence gives so much power, it is an attention grabber. Once you get comfortable with silence a lot of these words go away.
    2) Plan, Thought and structure – More filler words occur when your thoughts are not fully formed & not structured. Sometimes all it takes is quick notes or plan 3 bullets.
    3) Transitions- Fillers are common at transitions from one idea to the next. Pre-plan your transitions to avoid this. It can be as simple as always saying “ABC is important and now I’d like to brief you on DEF”

    Of course much of the above is about preparation, but with sufficient conscious preparation they become subconscious habits.

    Last bit I’d add is this concept of “Connecting your words”. The idea is to only pause at commas or full stops. Pausing at the wrong spot changes the meaning of the sentence (Example: Kill him not free him VS Kill him not free him ) . This is powerful as it really makes you conscious. It is much harder but effective in getting rid of fillers as you are now planning all your pauses.

    Hope this helps and will drop in with more as they occur to me 🙂

    1. Very useful.

      Agree with you on the prep thing. And, that’s definitely the case in a prepared talk.

      I think I struggle with it when it is an unprepared talk. Let’s see how it goes

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