Fillers – Speaker’s Bane and Audience Pain

In my op there is no more painful experience than listening to a speaker who can’t tolerate a moment of silence in their presentation. You know what that looks like. Every possible gap is filled with a sound. Ummm, uhhh, ahh, etc. Or, worse yet, senseless words: you know, like, and so on, etc.

I call these fillers and they are most often used by rank amateurs or people who are completely unprepared to be in front of an audience. That may be harsh, but that’s what I tell myself when I hear someone up front constantly using fillers. I am not saying you should never use an um or an ah in your presentations. When used rarely and on purpose for effect they can be used. You just can’t use them indiscriminately and without any thought.

When you know your material, have prepared your topic well and are confident that what you have to say to the audience is important don’t ruin all that with fillers. And those are the keys to avoiding fillers:

  • Know your material
  • Prepare what you want to say
  • Be confident that what you’re telling the audience is important to them (if you don’t, they won’t either!)
  • Trust that they want to hear what you have to say
  • Don’t be afraid of silence as a well placed pause is sometimes more effective than words

If you have developed the habit of using fillers stop it. Prepare your next presentation and build in reminders that will keep you from falling into fillers. Go so far as to write (silence) or (pause) in your notes. If you don’t use notes then memorize pauses and silence just as well as you memorize your words. However, if you know that using fillers is a particular problem for you then I suggest you try using notes until you’ve developed a new habit.

If you enjoyed this article, Get email updates (It’s Free)

Leave a Reply