How to stop using the filler words?
“I wanted to… uh, discuss… em, I don’t know how to say it, uh…”. See how the filler words work?
I am sure you’ve been in this situation before. Maybe not as intense as this one but nothing matters when you are in a meeting, public speaking, negotiation or presentation or even when you are talking to your boss. You can’t remember words and use filler words to catch your breath or think. Sometimes we use “like” and words like this. We cough or breathe deeply to avoid the hard situation and have more time to think.
In this article, I want to talk about how to stop using filler words like uh, em, etc., as I used in the first paragraph.
The sentence is: I want to buy a book today.
Now imagine I want to say it using the filler words:
I… uh, want to… em, actually buy… uh, a book today.
Without filler words: I want to buy a book today.
See the difference?
When you use filler words, it seems you are not dominant enough.
First, I have to say what filler words are for? They buy us some time. So our mind thinks it’s not right to be quiet in the middle of our talks and we start filling the gaps with some useless words.
Use an elastic band for unconscious conditioning. Psychologists prove this method. First, it’s better if I explain conditioning.
Pavlov was a Russian scientist who had many types of research on digestion. Accidentally he realized that although the bowls are empty, dogs have saliva secretion. It makes him wonder. He prepared a room. In that room, there was music, then in some experiments, it was a light, and a few seconds later the dogs could have their food. The food came from the ceiling.
It was interesting that in many times dogs were waiting for their food because of the music and the light, but the food never showed up.
This experiment is not just for animals. It’s proven for humans too. For example, I say sour fruit-roll.
Well, it even makes my mouth water. It’s a kind of conditioning that when you use particular delicious words, it makes your mouth water.
Now why I brought up this subject?
We have to teach our brain that you will be punished if you use filler words. The best thing to do is to use an elastic band around your wrist. Every time you use a filler word, pull the ribbon and let it go. Not so hard but the little pressure will teach your brain a lesson. After 10 or 15 times you can see that you are not using filler words anymore.
There is no need to do some strange practices.
If you are at a place that it’s not pretty to wear an elastic band, you can squeeze your hand or hit your hand slowly. It doesn’t matter what it is. It only has to be a small punishment. There is no need for electric shock or smacking your head to the wall! Your brain will know it with a small and calm sentence.
Another way is to be quiet. You need to know that it’s OK to be silent. Silence is powerful!
It means if you have to choose between saying “uh,” or being silent for a second, silence wins.
3- The beginning of your speech
You need to know the exact time and sentence at the beginning of your speech. I always say if you practice your speech five times, practice the start of it 20 times. And of course, think about the end too. There are the most critical parts of a speech.
4- Change the “uh” to “mmm.”
First, the audience may not notice it when you change it to mmm, and second, mmm is harder to say. It takes some effort. So our brain prefers not to use “uh” at all because it doesn’t like to change it into a harder filler word.
5- Record your voice
When you record your voice, you understand you use filler words more than you imagined.
It’s a brilliant way to know where you use them and what the pattern is. Do you use it when you finished your sentence? Or when you are looking for a proper verb?
Then you can use the pattern to eliminate this problem. If it’s difficult for you to find the right verbs, make a list of necessary verbs and look at them from time to time.
Never underestimate your brain! It can do great things.
Finally, I want to point out to this fact: our brain can prepare 500 to 600 words and think about them. On average, we use 150 words to talk. It means we use almost a quarter of our brain. So don’t worry if you see you use too many filler words. It’s only because your mind was out of practice.
Try to talk faster. When you talk faster, your brain will be able to make the sentences and choose the words quicker. This way there is no time to say “uh,” “oh,” etc.