5 Practical Tips To, Uh, Stop Using Filler Words

5 Practical Tips To, Uh, Stop Using Filler Words

So, uh, how do you, like, stop talking like this?

It’s normal to get a little nervous when you’re put on the spot — whether speaking in a business meeting, presenting to clients, answering a question during an interview, or even trying to keep a conversation going during a promising date. When this happens, we tend to use verbal fillers like “um”, “so”, “like”, etc.

Everyone uses verbal fillers. But just it’s normal doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to stop using them.


Verbal fillers can make you sound less authoritative. They can make you sound unsure of yourself, or even incompetent.

So, like, how do you stop using fillers?

Here are a few steps you can take to avoid using verbal fillers.

verbal fillers

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1. Listen to yourself

In this New York Times article, communications expert Lisa B. Marshall recommends recording yourself and listening to the recordings for five minutes a day for two weeks.

If just the thought of this makes you cringe, that’s the desired effect. Being aware of how much you use fillers and how you can improve will give you that motivation you need to get those verbal fillers out of your system.

2. Take your time

First of all, you need to learn that it’s okay to simply pause. Though it might feel awkward at first, having a moment of silence is better than filling it with unnecessary um’s and ah’s.

verbal fillers

Source: Shutterstock

3. Know your stuff

There really are no shortcuts. When you know you have a talk coming up, prepare as much as you can.

If you know your stuff back-to-front and inside-out, you won’t have to take your time racking your brain for the next thing to say. People can tell when you know what you’re talking about.

4. Organise your information

Just knowing your material isn’t going to cut it if you don’t know how to present it. Sometimes, the problem is wanting to say too much in one go.

Organise what you’re going to say in bite-sized chunks, and figure out how to transition from one point to the next beforehand.

5. Don’t overthink it

Nobody else knows how nervous you are. Don’t worry about what people think of you — no-one is out to get you, and chances are, people are too preoccupied in their own stuff to think about what you have to say too much.


Which verbal fillers do you keep using?

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