Business Owners:  How to avoid Filler Words “um”, “uh”, “like”, “er”, “ok”, “right”

As a business owner, how often do you speak in public?  Do you own a business that requires you to public speak?  Do you communicate with your team, employees, or customers daily?  Do you find yourself using filler words such as “um”, “uh”, “like”, “er”, “ok”, “right” consistently?  Do you notice others using filler words?  Avoiding filler words like um, uh, like, and “ok” takes time, but is a must for every business owner.  

Lose Filler Words.  Gain Credibility

Using filler words gives the listener the impression that you haven’t practiced and don’t take your business seriously.  Yikes!  Of course, this is absolutely what you DON’T want potential customers to think.  A few years ago, I attended an event.  A dentist was speaking about her practice.  Everything about the presentation gave the impression that she didn’t want to be there (her arms were crossed half the time); she used “um” and “uh” every sentence, and she spoke quietly which gives the impression she wasn’t confident.  She did not leave a good first impression. 

My favorite radio station is a business radio station sponsored by the Wharton School on Sirius XM.  The content is phenomenal; however, sometimes I have to change the station.  Occasionally, their guests use filler words in every sentence or between every sentence.  It’s hard to listen to the content with so many distractions.  The guests of this station are vetted and intelligent.  The point here is that speaking on any level whether it’s over the phone, at a conference table, at a networking event, at a dinner meeting, on stage, on TV, or on the radio, public speaking takes practice.  The more you practice your presentation or content, the more confident you become, and the better you speak.

Takeaway:  Once you have your presentation written, practice ten times longer than the presentation.  Example:  5 minute presentation = 50 minute preparation.  10 minute presentation = 100 minutes of practice prior to the presentation.  You get the idea.  

Practice. Practice. Practice.  

The best way to eliminate filler words is to practice your presentation.  For a planned speech, it’s important to practice over and over.   Every time you mutter a filler word, start over.  In fact, continue practicing until you don’t utter another filler word.  This might take a LONG time. But, like anything, will be worth it in the long run.  I spend the better part of my day in the car so I practice my presentations over and over and over.  Practice in front of a mirror so you can see your body language.  Use your cell phone to video your presentation then look at your body language, facial expressions, and be meticulous as to when you use the filler words.  Are they at the beginning of a sentence, at the end, in the middle?  STOP every time you say one. 

Takeaway: Pause, Think, then Speak.  Instead of using filler words in sentences, PAUSE.  It’s ok to not talk all the time.  A pause allows you to pause for a second, think about your next spoken word, then speak without any filler words.  Success.

Filler Words & Perfectionism

Be mindful and recognize each time you say a filler word.  Ideally, there should not be any filler words in your speech.  I have an instructor that always says, “ok?” at the end of a statement and sometimes at the end of a command.     Practice speaking in front of a mirror at home and just talk.  Talk about your business, talk about work, talk about family, just talk. 

Let’s not completely stress out because it’s better to speak than not at all.  Three Filler Words are better than ten.  Twenty-five filler words are better than fifty.  Don’t let perfectionism be the enemy.  No one is perfect.  Give yourself some grace…then practice…then say it again!

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