Did you know that certain words used while talking are fillers. They do not have any real reason to be used but, either they are in the habit or in the backyard space of your vocabulary.
Consider the following:
Honestly speaking, I can’t do this.
I was literally singing a song.
I know about his bad habit, it’s like, you know, a really bad habit.
It doesn’t sound so bad to you, when you actually use them. (Do you see the pun here? My filler word is ‘actually’.) You can have your own filler word, or maybe two and you might not even know it. The thing is, you need get rid of them, and just use them where they actually justify. (In the process of reading this article, see how I have used all sort of fillers. At some places they fit and in some they do not.) If you know you filler word, light it up in your head, because it’s time you let it go.
A person I know personally was trying to make his mark as a motivational speaker. No names. His content was rock solid, we actually sat down every evening for, say, more than 3 months to prepare it. After the first two speeches in college auditorium, he told me that something was missing. Something like a booster. He deserved a louder applaud. Then emerged a word during his next podium-stand ‘believe me’. By the end of his talk he realized he sounded even more strong-headed with that word, and psychologically thought he received a better response than usual. This is all just mind-game. And he started using it so often, that he looked like a puffed popcorn trying to jump out of the microwave without a door. He was told about his filler word instinct, and he immediately knew he had to rectify it. He was a motivational speaker.
The common words are:
- You see
- You know
And there can be so many more, it depends on how you use these words and how they come across to the listener or the writer.
The filler words can be categorized, determined by how and in what places they are used.
These words are used to cover up pauses.
“Hello. I am 15 year old boy with a high on life attitude, and happy-go-lucky nature. I love animals and soccer. My father is a millionaire and my mother is a millionaire’s wife.”
Now this is how a sentence like above is often heard.
“Hello. I am 15 year old boy with, umm, a high-on-life attitude, and uh, happy-go-lucky nature. I love animals and umm, soccer. My father is a millionaire and my mother aaa, is uh, a millionaire’s wife”
This does not look so much likeable, right. You must have heard people talk like that, but now that you know, do not make the same mistake.
This is a good one. Now, what is it that you do to add expressive value to your statement? You start using dramatic fillers. ‘Literally’ being the most common one. I, indeed, use literally quite often, like almost in every 5th sentence. Haah!
Trust me, we love special effects while telling stories, but the listener may not be an admirer of repetition. Over usage of words like ‘like’ and ‘literally’ harms the credibility of the speaker or writer.
Certain words act as engines to our sentences. They pitch in right at the start giving us a drill to begin with. So, do you feel the heat of the above statement? Generally, we use these words too often without realizing. Our talks and write-ups will only become stronger and more interesting with the elimination of these unintended fillers.
These fillers, interestingly, are a support system of your lack of confidence. When we, in course of providing information, are not self-assured, we ask the receiver of information to say yes, right? We want to check-back at what we are talking about with the audience. You know, most people tend to ask ‘what’ even after they have well-heard the person talking to them. This is because the listener requires time to recollect and grasp what he heard. This is hilarious when you literallynotice it in the moment. Try avoiding these add on questions, ok?
You can be what you want, you can do what you want to, but certain aspects are so neglected that unless brought to notice through someone else, they remain hidden. Use of fillers is one such aspect of our communication. Communication which now forms the basis of business skills, shouldn’t be so full unimportant errors, such that it becomes void. Entrepreneurship is so much about convincing, but convincing is not about filling up spaces with your tries, and finishing in the place of adjustment. Your convincing comes from what you can make him believe, no matter what you believe in. Believe me, try avoiding these fillers while making your business pitch, or in your business meetings.
Once a secretary, new in that organization, wrote a letter to a private company GM. She wished to fix a meeting between her boss and the GM. The reply from the GM’s assistant clearly denied to have understood the purpose of the letter. She wrote another letter, and the reply from the GM’s office said “Do you wish to meet in person, sir?” That was, indeed, the purpose. A phone call was officially arranged between the two to decide about the specs of the meeting. The GM informed the secretary’s boss about the incompetent and unwanted use of language in the letter which did not allow the motive of the letter to be identified, and hence there was a delay in the process.
Like in the above example, it is important to understand that not only in speaking but also in writing, the subject matter should not made incapable of conception by extensive use of fillers.
Occasional and rightful use of such words is highly recommended. They are an important part of English. The problem is when they become repetitive, and make your English sound irksome. As a matter of fact, eliminating the fillers is an easy task. Kindly, allow yourself to concentrate on your significant content than diversifying into ‘uhs’ and ‘umms’ and ‘likes-literallys’.
You can keep a check on yourself by trying following methods, and also bring down the usage of fillers in your content.
- Pause and Play: Talk, and talk, and pause where there has to be one, and again talk, but this time make sure that the word right after the pause isn’t a filler. List n number of ideas in your mind and start sharing them. Between two ideas, do not use filler. Pause till you start correct. Overtime, the duration of your pause will shorten. It might be irritating, but your listeners will definitely rate you higher.
- Control your tempo: Slow down. Nothing can be better than this. People too hasty while talking tend to use greater number of fillers unless, of course, they are exceptional orators. Have a check on your speed and word count per minute. With a few mistakes and abrupt changes in your talk-tempo, you will develop a liking for a particular speed and soon make it natural. Here, you gain an advantage of positivity. Once you learn to control your speed, you are able to focus on content that matters more and not on completing and joining sentences.
- Re-play: You’re done talking. Awesome. Go, listen to it, regret the fillers, help yourself. In your next talk, at least cut down by 20%.
- A friend in need: Tell the person you talk most with to check you everytime you uselessly use a useless filler. You know who will do this best for you.
- Best interview ever: Interview yourself. Ask the most common questions, and answer them. Answer again from the beginning as soon as you fill it up with a filler. This will be the best interview ever, because you progress without rejection.
- Energize: If you throw your voice with intensity, and project it with greater emotion, it becomes difficult to use the ‘adjusting fillers’. Add energy to your talk.
Just a little extra effort, and abundance of claps. Pause and play is the golden way.
With this you deliver better, clearer and smarter. (That sounds like a consumer product advertisement.) You do not let audience get distracted; you increase your credibility and you receive much more appreciation.