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The Problem with Filler Words

  • 6/24/2016 4:32:00 AM
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The Problem with Filler Words

Have you ever been talking to someone and had no idea what they were saying because you’re counting the number of times “like” is used? What about during a presentation and the speaker used “um” during every pause?


Like, um, well, uh-huh, you-know, etc. are filler words. Otherwise known as meaningless words, phrases, or sounds that mark a pause or hesitation in speech. The problem with filler words is that they are literally distracting! It’s hard to concentrate on the message being conveyed when you’re wondering if the speaker is just nervous or has no idea what he is talking about.


In a recent blog by Seth Godin, “Um” and “like” and being heard, he states, “For a million years, people have been judging each other based on voice. Not just on what we say, but on how we say it.” Seth then goes on to discuss how to get rid of these “verbal tics.” When it comes to “um,” try replacing it with silence.


You’ve heard the proverbial saying, “Silence is golden.” It’s never been more meaningful when trying to eliminate filler words from your speech. Silence can also be powerful; so it must be used appropriately. Practice speaking in front of friends who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is or by recording yourself. According to Forbes, professionals are encouraged to chunk sentences together with pauses in between chunks, make engaging eye contact with each person in the room, and plan transition phases ahead of time. Instead of using “Um,” try “Moving on.”


Fear of public speaking is real. However, if you are prepared and have practiced – using pauses, making eye contact, and adopting transition phrases – the speaking engagement will go smoother than you think.


Tweet: 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety, known as glossophobia: fear of public speaking. The Problem with Filler Words via @TheRemiGroup


Top 20 filler words and/or phrases to avoid:

  1. Gotcha
  2. Seriously
  3. Really
  4. Ok
  5. Yeah
  6. Like
  7. Basically
  8. Uh-huh
  9. Hmmm
  10. You-know
  11. Cool
  12. Ahh
  13. So
  14. Got-it
  15. Right
  16. Literally
  17. Um
  18. Well
  19. Just Saying
  20. My Bad


What tips and tricks have helped you overcome your speech anxiety? Share them with us! There are so many more filler words to add to the list above. Leave a comment with your additions!


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