Eliminate filler words for a more effective presentation

We business professionals live by the spoken and written word. As a result, we must ensure that we’re always putting forth our best effort. Not just in the content – the information we present – but also in the delivery. That is, how well we speak and write.

All of us are pretty good at proofreading our copy. Spell check gets a workout with each column. We also use our brains, because we know that spell check cannot catch all errors.

What about the spoken word? Do you speak in a polished manner, or do you toss in filler words like chocolate chips in cookie batter? “Oh, Tom. Be reasonable. My listeners come to me for the content.” True. But trust me: They’re evaluating your speaking style, as well. We should strive to speak properly every time. An occasional gaffe is fine. Indeed, it adds a natural, conversational tone to your webinar or presentation.


Let me stress that everyone works at this. I do. I was a member of a Toastmasters Club for more than five years. I used that time to, among other things, rid my speech of various quirks. Some are still out there; it’s a life-long journey. Take heart. With a little effort you can make a big impact on your presentation.

In addition to “um” and “ah,” here are some of the more common filler words I hear.

So: “So let’s take a look at your capture page. So you see that your copy isn’t that strong. So you need to make changes.”

And-so: “And so we modeled this test after one we ran last year. And so that allowed us to continue with the study.”

Well: “Well, now that you mention it, I do see a difference.”

Actually: “I actually just added a video to my blog.”

You know: The #1 filler word of all time.

Now: “Now open the next page on your site. Now click on the button at the top…”

Notice that most of these filler words occur at the beginning of a sentence. It’s as if we feel we need a transition to the beginning of a comment. Eliminate these, and dive right into your comment.

All these words have a purpose. We have a knack for using them in the wrong places. The solution involves pausing for a second or so and telling yourself not to use the particular word. Eventually you will get over the habit, and your presentations will be that much stronger.

What filler words or other verbal quirks have you heard during presentations? Feel free to comment below.

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Tom Fuszard, content writer, blog writing, pr writing, web copy



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