Audiences have heard the irritating, excessive use of “uhms” and “ahhs” during presentations, even from great speakers. We might even be guilty of these verbal tics at times. Often, they come out naturally while we’re thinking, but if we get stuck on these fillers, they can certainly heighten our nervousness during presentations! To avoid using “uh-necessary fillers,” here are 5 facts to remember during your presentation:
Fact 1: Fillers can be an attempt to avoid silence.
The psychology behind fillers is that we think we continually need to be talking when we’re presenting or answering a question. But silence does not always have to be awkward.If you observe some professional speakers, you will notice that they briefly pause to collect their thoughts and find the right words. In fact, a few seconds of silence enables you to formulate your ideas faster than if you were still talking and may even add significance to your presentation. As long as it’s not excessive, silence is perfectly acceptable and enables you to form a response in your head before speaking.
Fact 2: The duration of silence is often overestimated.
If you haven’t gotten comfortable using silence to replace fillers, there’s a tendency to overestimate the amount of time that has passed without speaking. It may seem like a long time to you but to the audience it’s merely a brief pause. Once you’ve trained yourself to break in silent pauses, you’ll have a more realistic estimate of the length of your silence and when it’s appropriate.
Fact 3: You might not even know you’re using fillers.
Most of the time we aren’t aware of how frequently we use fillers. Rehearsing your presentation and recording it can help you become more aware of how often you use them. Continue practicing while being conscious of avoiding these fillers. Another way to be aware of your use of fillers is to have someone tell you exactly how many times you utter them during your presentation.
Fact 4: Not all fillers are BAD.
Fillers themselves aren’t bad but excessive or out of context usage of them can be. For instance, when used at the start of a response, fillers like “uhm” may tell your listeners you’re processing your thoughts but still have the floor. They can indicate to your listeners that you’re thinking about your answer,whereas silence, especially if prolonged, can make you appear rude. However, if fillers are overused during presentations or discussions, the audience may think you aren’t prepared or lack confidence.
Fact 5: Environmental factors can trigger verbal tics.
Even if you don’t use fillers or use them sparingly, being surrounded by others who do may eventually affect your own presentation style. If you’re aware of this you can avoid it.
So, what can you do about it?
If you’re still uncomfortable with employing a brief silence into your presentation, one technique you can use is to replace common fillers, like “ums,” with “such as” or “now.” As long as you’re using these in the proper context, you will convey a more effective and authoritative impression.
More importantly, passion and confidence are the keys to a fluid state of mind. If you’re knowledgeable and enthusiastic about your presentation, you’ll be more confident and relaxed, which will enable you to think on your feet and significantly reduce your tendency to spontaneously use fillers. You won’t be overly conscious about avoiding the use of fillers and can focus on what really matters—making a genuine connection with your audience.
Have you been successful using these strategies to avoid unnecessary fillers? Let us know through your comments below.