By Ruoro Kairu
Do you remember the last presentation you made? While presenting, did you use words such as basically, really, very, hmm, ah, totally, uh?
These are what we call filler words, and they can be distracting to the audience. This is why you may notice the audience gets distracted while someone is presenting.
Some of the most popular filler words include; uh, um, ah, like, really, basically, actually, very, I mean, ok, so…, well, totally, hmm, and the list goes on.
Michael wrote to us a couple of weeks back. In his email, he wrote of how he’s always seen himself as a great speaker. This, however, had changed after a business presentation he’d made.
Here’s a section of Michael’s email;
“This week, I prepared to give a presentation to my supervisors. I was excited since our department has grown and surpassed all the targets we’d been given for the quota.
I had gone over my PowerPoint presentation to ensure everything was okay.
However, midway through my presentation, I noticed the audience was not paying attention.
I tried every tactic to draw back their attention, but a few minutes, they’d go back to talking amongst themselves, using their phones, or staring outside the window.
After the presentation, I approached one of the supervisors and asked her for feedback. She told me I included filler words in my presentation, which was distracting them and causing the loss of attention.”
Michael wanted to know how he could get rid of filler words and have a powerful presentation.
How do filler words affect your presentation?
As described earlier, filler words add no value to your speech. On the contrary, they distract your audience. When you’re presenting and you say ‘aah,’ it disorients your audience, which then distracts them from your presentation altogether.
How do you stop using filler words in your presentation?
I spoke to a public speaking coach from Corporate Staffing Services. Here are some tips I picked up on how to eliminate filler words from your presentation.
1. Recognize the filler words you use
We all don’t use the same filler words. To start off, you have to recognize the words you use.
There are two main approaches to doing this. One, you can record yourself in a natural conversation and see what words you use.
Secondly, you can ask a colleague or friend to help you recognize the filler words.
You don’t have to wait until your next presentation. You don’t just use the filler words in a presentation. You likely use them in your everyday conversations.
Over a few days, note down the recurring filler words.
2. Recognize when you do it
In step one, you’re not fully aware of the words you use.
Now that you have a list of your filler words, the next step is to recognize every time you use them.
Be conscious when you’re speaking, and note when you use the filler word.
You might notice you use the words more when you’re nervous, or in a haste, or when you’re stressed out.
3. Replace your filler word
The filler words you use have slowly formed into your routine.
When recording these words, you’ll notice a day rarely goes by before you use these words severally.
So, how do you fix it?
The answer, as the effective communication coach shared, is to switch this habit with another.
“You can’t wake up one day and decide to stop a habit you’ve had for years, you have to gradually replace it. This is how you gradually fix using filler words.” shared the coach.
Whenever you’re about to term the filler word, take a second and pause. At first, it may feel a little awkward, but as you continue, it’ll become a more natural habit.
Fix the filler words with a pause instead and you’ll notice when you do continue with your presentation, you’ll have the full attention of your audience.
In summary, realize that getting rid of filler words is an ongoing process. Don’t get disappointed when it doesn’t happen in one day.
In the training, you’ll learn how to communicate effectively, have a powerful presentation, how to retain your audience’s attention and overcome nerves when presenting. Register today for the class.