Fluency demands that you avoid the filler words or conversation fillers as much as possible and you know it but can’t help it… Here are my views on how to find them, count them how often you use and where so that you can finally avoid them. Using them show lack of confidence and listener doesn’t get the right message.
The hallmark of good communication is that each words or every sound is conveys what you really mean. Just mean it and don’t say ‘I mean…’ after you have said it.
Have a look at an interview conversation:
Candidate: Um.. I don’t know.. like… I can tell you. Uh Yes My choice is ‘xyz’. Um. you know what I mean.
Interviewer: Shall I take it as your final answer
Candidate: Umm.. Yes, I guess that is my final answer.
The Candidate is a reject case on ‘communication skills’ even if his final answer is technically right! The example shows how filler words can be more than ‘time to think’ – they can be deadly. It shows lack of confidence. Susan Ward, a speech specialist, told the Wall Street Journal. “Using excessive fillers is the most irritating speech habit, They distract your listener often to the point that he doesn’t hear anything you say. Your key message is entirely lost.”
If the interviewer asks a person to stop and shows that he does not want to listen further even before the allotted time… the reason in most cases is the above.
Fortunately, filler words can be trimmed from speeches, when: find them out for our students and they work on it. Here is how you can learn to cut down on these verbal mistakes – so that when you open your mouth, you don’t say “Ah.” (sound ‘Ah’ is often interpreted like usage of an ‘article’ which is definitely misplaced)
Don’t worry about silence or a pause.
Most beginning speakers are afraid of pauses. They believe their audience will think they can’t speak fluently if they pause to think of what to say next, so they use filler words to avoid the silence. However, a pause is actually more impressive than a filler word. Listeners know that the speaker is thinking, trying to find the right word. They respect this. Sometimes a pause can actually improve a speech, as when ‘Amitabh Bachan’ uses a dramatic pause to catch the attention of his audience. A natural speaker shouldn’t be afraid to pause occasionally during a speech; it shows self-confidence. Otherwise it may also look like a crammed speech.
Ask your trainer or your speaking partner to find them… and if too many to count them.
In India, having listened to hundreds of speakers we find the following words/phrases far too often than necessary:
1. Um 2. Uh-huh 3. Right 4. Cool 5. OK 6. Yeah 7. Like 8. Really 9. That’s interesting 10. Ah or Aaa 11. All right 12. Good question 13. I’ve heard that 14. Is that so 15. You know 16. I know 17. I hear you 18. You don’t mean to say 19. Seriously 20. Basically 21. Got it 22. Used to (when don’t mean it) 23. I mean
I have to use ‘Got it’ often to confirm if my students are understanding my English… some of them get it as they repeat my sentences… I’m sorry will avoid it. You can ask me or someone else point it out to you (as the speaker generally does not notice it) you can even get the listener to count them for you.
Usage of ‘filler words or phrases’ can be replaced with the right Linking Word.