What are fillers? These are sounds and words that take up space in your conversation but don’t provide any meaning. Words and sounds such as like, you know, okay, umm, and ah are common fillers. We use fillers to give us an extra second or two to form our next sentence. Fillers distract from your message and maybe annoying to your audience.

Everyone uses fillers, even the best speakers. One way to find out how often you rely on crutches and fillers is to record yourself making a presentation and then listen to it. Or ask a friend or colleague to give you honest feedback about your speech.

Once you know if you are using fillers and what are the fillers you are using then you can take action to break the habit. Here are a few tips:

  • Practice your presentation so you are familiar with the material.
  • Time your presentation to know that it fits in the time allotted. Don’t try to race through, it will cause more stress and make you use more fillers.
  • Spend extra time practicing the tricky parts.
  • Pause at the end of sentences and when moving to the next slide.
  • Slow your rate of speech to help you gather your thoughts.
  • Bring some water with you. Taking a drink of water gives you time to formulate the next part of your talk.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.