Filler Words in Presentations

Episode 27: Handling Filler Words in Presentations

Are you trying to eliminate filler words from your presentations or speech? I share tips on how to avoid using them as well some good news that no one will tell you about filler words.

You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

What You’ll Learn in this Episode

  • What are filler words and the two types
  • How you can start eliminating filler words from your speech
  • Addressing when and why it’s fine to not completely eliminate filler words

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Episode Transcript

In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing my advice on how to handle filler words in your speech. First, what are filler words? Filler words are those words that you use when speaking, and you’re searching for a word or a phrase to say. They are usually used in conversations, but they can also be found in other forms of communication.

Some examples of filler words are um, uh, err like, you know, the last two. I’m actually really guilty of those. You can group these filler words into two types.

The first type are speaker fillers, and these are usually used to buy time when you’re thinking of what to say next, and they only occur while speaking.

The second type is talking too much or saying too much. This can occur with writing as well, and usually I see this when people are nervous, but also sometimes people use this to create some suspense or drama in storytelling. So how can we eliminate filler words from our speech to avoid this? Always be mindful of what you are trying to say next before you speak so that you don’t feel tempted to use any filler words.

This will also make sure that you’re not talking too much and keep you on track. So here are a few tips to help you out. First is knowing your content really well so that you’re not stumbling and using filler words. For instance, if you forget what you’re gonna say next, that’s usually when you would use a filler word.

But if you know your content really well, if you know the outline of your presentation really well, you’re less likely to stumble and use filler. Another tip is to record yourself talking and listen to it. You can count how many times you say the filler words, and then when you practice live, you can be conscious of you using filler words and stop yourself.

I’ll talk more about this later. Another tip is replacing your filler words with pauses. So if you do find yourself struggling with what to say next, or trying to remember a specific word or phrase instead of using that silence to fill them with filler words, like, uh, um, try to just be comfortable with pausing.

Just having the silence, being comfortable with the silence . Pauses can actually be a really powerful tool for speech, actually. So in my interview with Cole Nafl last season at the end of season two, we talked about how we should get comfortable with pauses and they can even help bring attention back to you if your audience is distracted

Something I really wanna address in this episode is the question of do we really need to eliminate all filler words from our speech? I actually don’t believe that we need to do that. It’s great if you can, but don’t stress out if you let out a few ums and uhs or likes if a few of those slip in, that’s okay.

I have spoken to seasoned presenters, even ones that train other presenters, and in conversations with them, I’ve noticed a few filler words slip in. I’ve even had folks on my podcast, and even when I’m recording a podcast, we do use filler words and I have a very nifty editing tool that automatically removes filler words.

So oftentimes you don’t get to hear them because these episodes have been edited and sometimes a few filler words still stay in the episode because this tool doesn’t scrub all filler words, all the. But I’m okay with it because oftentimes in conversations, people use them naturally. I want you to think about the last time you were talking to someone and you noticed them use a filler word, most likely. If you noticed it, then I have a feeling they were either saying it every few seconds, so it was very, very obvious.

Or they were exaggerating the filler word, like going. Um, . Otherwise, I think it is very hard for us to pick up on people using filler words in natural conversations. So I don’t think it’s a big deal.

So I don’t want you to be too hard on yourself if you can’t a hundred percent eliminate all filler words from your speech. In most presentations, you won’t notice speakers who use filler words occasionally. In fact, sometimes it may even seem natural, like if they’re answering a question and you can tell they’re thinking about what to start off with, they might say, well, um, and then they give you the answer.

So, unless you’re giving a TED Talk or a keynote speech at a high profile event, your speech doesn’t have to be completely scrubbed of all filler words. So if you find yourself accidentally saying a filler word in your speech, don’t let that trip you over.

I don’t want you to stress about it. Instead, just move on. Just continue with your presentation.