Do you find you use too many “um’s” and “ah’s” in conversation, presentations or meetings? What about “kind of’s” and “sort of’s”?

These types of fillers are common and are a poor communication habit. They distract the listener and can make you appear less thoughtful.

Fillers tend to be used when we’re nervous, uncertain and when our minds are racing so fast that we struggle to organize our thoughts. Try these three tips on how reduce fillers. Your speech will flow and you’ll get a boost of confidence.

1. Slow down
Many people who use fillers speak fast, which can cause the “um’s” and “ah’s” to increase. An effective way to reduce the use of fillers is to simply slow down and catch up with your thoughts.

2. Add pauses to your speech
When possible, build pauses in your speeches to give yourself a break. For example, if you’re doing a presentation, pause in between your points to compose your next thought. If you’re having a conversation, pauses can take the form of questions such as “What do you think?” or “Do you know what I mean?”

3. Drink water
Another easy way to build pauses is to have water with you as you speak. Sipping water occasionally as you talk can naturally reduce fillers. For example, if you are interviewing for a job and need to answer a difficult question, take a sip of water to create a pause and to take an extra moment to compartmentalize your thoughts before speaking.

SOURCE: Psychology Today

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