Americans are famous for using filler words like “um”, “uh”, “like” and “Y’know”. On average we utter two to three filler words for every 100 words as we speak. While fillers are easy to say they can make any speaker appear unprofessional and even awkward.
So it’s time to cut the habit.
The Clap Method
First, figure out how often you use filler words with the clap method. Ask someone close to you to clap whenever you use filler word. This may feel strange at first, but once you get used to it it’s a simple way to figure out how many filler words you use in your daily conversations.
The Self Recording Method
If you feel uncomfortable asking someone to clap, you can set up a camera and record yourself during conversations. Later watch the footage to determine if you sound coherent.
How to fix it
In many cases, people use filler words to make time for their thoughts. In those moments, instead of using filler words, try pausing. California speaking Coach Paula Statman says “It is a matter of training yourself to tolerate a long pause and telling yourself that you will not lose people’s attention or respect”.
It’s also important to manage anxiety when you speak. Many people unconsciously use filler words when they are speaking in public to disguise their anxiety. When you are speaking publicly or giving a presentation, try to shift your focus on how your words will help your audience, rather than how you will be perceived by them.
And remember, practice makes perfect. The more confident you are with your speech, the less likely you are to use filler words during your presentation. So the next time you have a presentation Um….you should….y’know, practice.