Eliminate Filler Words: 10 Techniques for Confident Speaking

By Porter Metzler

Home / Interact Studio Stories & Articles / Eliminate Filler Words: 10 Techniques for Confident Speaking

Cutting out filler words and using short sentences can transform conversations, public speaking, and presentations from dull to dynamic, enhancing communication skills. These pesky words and phrases sneak into our sentences, cluttering our messages, diluting our points, and challenging our communication skills.

Whether in a crucial business meeting or chatting with friends, mastering the art of concise communication, public speaking, using short sentences, understanding body language, and practicing active listening sets you apart.

Here are some easy-to-implement strategies for eliminating those unnecessary words, phrases, and fillers that weigh down your eloquence in sentences during public speaking. Ready to sharpen your speech and write more effectively? Scroll down for insights on how to clean up your language game, practice public speaking, and eliminate filler words.

1. Pause and Breathe

Taking a moment to pause, breathe, and practice is like hitting the reset button on your speaking habits, reducing fillers and thanking the audience. It gives your mind a chance to catch up with what you want to say next. By introducing pauses, you’re giving yourself time to think and creating space for your thoughts to become clearer.

Breathing deeply from your diaphragm before you start talking can significantly reduce anxiety, which often leads us to use filler words as crutches. These deep breaths send a signal of calmness throughout your body, making it easier for you to focus on delivering your message without unnecessary interruptions.

pause breathe resume to eliminate filler wordsPausing doesn’t mean silence has to be awkward; it’s actually powerful. In those moments of silence, while you gather your thoughts, the audience can digest what has been said so far. This break in speech can emphasize the importance of what comes next, making people pay more attention.

Creating this new habit might seem challenging at first, but with practice, pausing and breathing will become second nature. Start by consciously deciding to take a deep breath at the beginning of a sentence or when transitioning between ideas. With time, these small seconds spent pausing will accumulate into smoother and more confident speeches free from filler words.

2. Slow Down Your Speech

When you slow down your speech, your brain gets more time to think about what you want to say next. This means you can pick the best words without rushing. It’s like when you take your time to choose a perfect ice cream flavor; the result is usually much better.

Slowing down also helps reduce those moments when we feel we need to fill every silence with “um,” “uh,” or other unnecessary words. Imagine walking through a museum slowly, taking in each painting carefully versus rushing through it. You appreciate and understand more when you go slower.

Listeners also benefit from this approach. With clearer pronunciation and short sentences, they can follow along more easily and remember what was said for longer periods. Think of it as reading a book with big letters and simple words – it’s just easier to grasp.

Here are some benefits of slowing down:

  • Gives the brain more time for word selection.
  • Decreases filler word usage.
  • Improves listener comprehension and retention.

3. Practice Mindful Speaking

Awareness of your speech patterns is the first step to reducing filler words. Notice how often you say “um,” “like,” or “you know.” This awareness is key.

Mindful speaking means choosing your words carefully. Before you speak, think about what you want to say and why it’s important. This helps make every word count.

Practicing mindful speaking also involves active listening. Pay close attention to others when they talk. This not only shows respect but also improves your ability to communicate without unnecessary fillers.

Here are some tips for practicing mindful speaking:

  • Pause before responding in conversations.
  • Think about the main point you want to convey.
  • Use silence as a tool, not something to be filled with noise.

4. Record and Review Your Speech

Recording your speech is like holding up a mirror to your words. It shows you exactly how often those pesky filler words creep in. Think of it as watching a replay of a game; you see every move, every mistake, and every triumph.

black dslr camera recording a speechSelf-review is your coach in this scenario. By listening to your own presentation, you become more aware of the places where “um,” “uh,” “like,” and other fillers pop up. This self-awareness is key because once you know what needs fixing, you can start working on it.

Listening back isn’t just about cringing at how many times you say “you know.” It’s also about pinpointing stress points or parts of your presentation that make you nervous. These are usually the spots where fillers overflow.

Here’s a simple trick: use sticky notes to mark these stress points in your notes or script. Before hitting each marked spot during practice, take a deep breath to calm yourself down. Reducing anxiety reduces filler word usage.

5. Expand Your Vocabulary

A bigger vocabulary means you have more words to choose from. This helps reduce using filler words like “um” and “uh.” When you know lots of different words, it’s easier to say exactly what you mean.

Learning new synonyms is a great way to express yourself better. For example, instead of saying “very good,” you could say “excellent.” This makes your sentences clearer and keeps those pesky fillers at bay.

How can you make your vocabulary bigger? Reading regularly is a fantastic way. Books, articles, and even comics can introduce you to new words in fun ways. Playing word games is another excellent method. Games like Scrabble or word puzzles challenge your brain and teach you new words without it feeling like hard work.

Remember, understanding when and how to use these new words is just as important as learning them. Asking questions about unfamiliar words or phrases boosts both your knowledge and confidence in using them correctly.

6. Embrace the Silence

Silence often feels like an enemy when we’re speaking. We rush to fill any gaps with “um,” “uh,” or other filler words. But embracing silence can transform your speech from good to great.

Think of silence as a powerful tool, not awkward pauses. When you stop fearing it, you start using it to your advantage. Silence grabs attention and adds drama.

Using pauses strategically can make your key points hit harder. After dropping an important idea or fact, let it hang in the air for a moment. This gives your audience time to digest your words, making the message more impactful.

Believe it or not, silence can be more impactful than a speech filled with unnecessary words. A well-placed pause can emphasize what’s truly important, helping you connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Remember that every word counts in communication; don’t dilute your message with fillers when silence could do the job better.

7. Use Hand Gestures

Gestures can be a powerful tool to reduce the use of filler words. When you move your hands, you’re not just waving them around; you’re giving your words an extra layer of meaning. This physical expression can help distract from any verbal fillers and emphasize what you’re trying to say.

woman holding microphone speaking with hand gesturesUsing gestures is also a great way to convey confidence. Think about it: when someone speaks with their hands, they seem more engaging and sure of themselves. It’s like their body language is saying, “I know what I’m talking about.”

Moreover, coordinating your gestures with key points in your speech or conversation helps deliver your message smoothly. Imagine tossing a ball every time you want to highlight something important—that’s how effective gestures can be! They serve as visual cues that signal listeners about the significance of certain points.

Here are some quick tips on using hand gestures effectively:

  • Make eye contact while gesturing towards something important.
  • Keep your movements natural and not too exaggerated.
  • Practice timing your gestures with key parts of your message for better impact.

8. Focus on Your Message, Not Perfection

When you concentrate on getting your message across, the pressure to perform perfectly decreases. It’s like telling a friend a story; you’re more focused on the tale than how flawlessly you tell it. This shift in focus can significantly reduce your reliance on filler words.

Another key step is accepting that it’s okay not to be perfect when speaking. Everyone stumbles or pauses now and then—it makes us human! By embracing these imperfections, you naturally eliminate unnecessary fillers from your speech.

Remember, effective communication is all about making a connection with your audience. Whether you’re giving a presentation or having a one-on-one conversation, people are more interested in what you say than judging how smoothly every sentence flows.

  • Focus should always be on conveying the key points of your topic.
  • Confidence grows as you put less effort into maintaining an image of flawlessness and more into sharing valuable content.
  • The ultimate goal is connection over perfection; attention should remain firmly anchored on this principle.

9. Engage in Public Speaking Exercises

Joining groups like Toastmasters is a game-changer for many. It’s not just about getting up on stage; it’s a journey toward becoming a confident communicator. These groups offer a safe space to practice and improve public speaking skills, which directly helps in reducing filler words.

Practicing impromptu speaking is another key exercise. Imagine someone throws you a topic, and you have to talk about it without any “ums” or “ahs”. This kind of practice sharpens your mind, forcing you to think on your feet and speak smoothly without relying on those pesky fillers.

man standing infront of group of people practicing speaking while eliminating filler wordsThe more you expose yourself to public speaking situations, the better you become at handling them. With each opportunity to speak in front of an audience, whether big or small, your confidence skyrockets. As your comfort level grows, so does your fluency in conversation—filler words start disappearing as if by magic.

10. Seek Constructive Feedback

Getting feedback from peers or mentors can illuminate the filler words you often miss. Sometimes, we use certain words so much that we no longer notice them. But when someone else listens to us speak, they can catch those sneaky fillers.

Constructive criticism is all about making your speaking style sharper and more effective. It’s not just about pointing out mistakes; it’s about showing you ways to improve. When someone offers you advice on how to cut down on “umms” and “ahhs,” they’re helping you become a better communicator.

Implementing this feedback might seem tough at first, but it’s all about taking small steps. Try focusing on one piece of advice at a time. If your mentor says you say “like” too much, concentrate on that for a week or two. Once you feel like you’ve made progress there, move on to another tip.


You have the tools to kick those pesky filler words to the curb. It’s all about taking a breath, slowing down, and being mindful of every word that comes out of your mouth. Think of your speech as a garden; you wouldn’t want weeds (filler words) taking over the beautiful flowers (your key points), right?

By recording yourself, expanding your vocabulary, and not fearing the silence, you’re on your way to speaking more clearly and confidently. Remember, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about getting your message across in the best way possible.

So, what’s next? Practice, practice, practice! Grab every opportunity to speak, whether a toast at a friend’s wedding or leading a meeting at work. Seek feedback from those you trust to be honest and constructive. You’ve got this! Let’s make those filler words a thing of the past and embrace the power of precise communication.

Key Takeaways

  • Taking a moment to pause, breathe, and practice can help you gather your thoughts and reduce the use of fillers and notes during a presentation.
  • Slowing down your speech allows you more time to think and pause, giving you the chance to practice your pronunciation, leading to more precise communication during a presentation.
  • Being mindful of your speaking habits can help you be more aware of when you’re using filler words in your presentation, helping you eliminate them over time with practice.
  • Recording your speech and listening to it afterward can highlight areas for improvement, especially in identifying and reducing filler words, enhancing practice, and preparing for a presentation audience.
  • Expanding your vocabulary through practice gives you a more comprehensive range of words, reducing the need to resort to fillers when searching for the proper term during a presentation and enhancing your image.
  • Embracing silence instead of filling it with unnecessary words or fillers can make your presentation speech more powerful and impactful and, through practice, resonate better with your audience.

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