Overusing filler words such as “like,” “um,” “uh,” and “you know” can make your speech less clear and effective. It’s a common habit, but with practice, intention and awareness, you can reduce your use of these words. 

The communication skills module in our business etiquette training curriculum addresses this important topic.  

Here are Tips to Help You Stop Overusing Filler Words:

  • Be Mindful: The first step in overcoming this habit is to be aware of it. Record yourself speaking or ask someone to point out when you use filler words. Pay attention to the contexts in which you use them.
  • Practice Pausing: Instead of using filler words, try to insert a brief pause when you would normally use them. Pausing can make you appear more confident and give you time to think about what you want to say next.
  • Slow Down: Speaking too quickly can lead to the overuse of filler words. Slow down your speech, especially when you’re nervous or excited, to give yourself time to think before you speak.
  • Prepare and Rehearse: If you have to speak in public or give a presentation, prepare and rehearse your speech or talking points. The more familiar you are with your material, the less likely you are to rely on filler words.
  • Use Visualization: Imagine yourself speaking confidently without using filler words. Visualization can help you break the habit by mentally rehearsing better speech patterns.
  • Expand Your Vocabulary: Sometimes, people use filler words because they can’t find the right word to express themselves. Expanding your vocabulary can help you find more precise and appropriate words.
  • Record and Review: Record yourself speaking in different situations and review the recordings to identify patterns of filler word usage. This can help you track your progress and make improvements over time.
  • Practice with Tongue Twisters: Tongue twisters are sentences that are difficult to say quickly or correctly. Practicing them can help you improve your pronunciation and reduce the use of filler words.
  • Seek Feedback: Ask friends, family members, or colleagues to provide feedback on your speech. They can offer valuable insights into your filler word usage and help you identify situations where you rely on them the most.
  • Take Public Speaking Classes: Enrolling in a public speaking or communication class can provide you with valuable techniques and feedback from experienced instructors.
  • Use a Filler Word Jar: Create a jar where you put a small amount of money every time you catch yourself using a filler word. This can act as a deterrent and motivate you to improve.
  • Practice Deep Breathing: Deep breathing exercises can help you stay calm and composed, reducing the anxiety that often leads to filler word usage.

Breaking the Habit of Using Filler Words Takes Time and Effort

It’s important to be patient with yourself and keep practicing. 

Over time, with consistent effort, you can speak more confidently and effectively.

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