Media Training Worldwide

Reducing the Verbal Tics and Fillers in Media Conversation

Getting rid of all the speech issues while preparing for a media presentation or public appearance quickly is very important, as your time is valuable. The following are excellent techniques to eliminate the ‘umms’, ‘errs’, and ‘likes’ you use too much in your speech or conversation.

It is a very common problem. You are not alone if you are facing it. Presidents of countries, billionaire fund managers, and even Nobel prize holders and peace prize winners have the problem of repeating verbal tics or using fillers in their talks. The following technique works to control their use. Type the word, sound or phrase you most commonly say in your conversation; ‘ah’, ‘umm’, ‘ur’, ‘you know’, ‘like’, ‘you see’ etc., in small or medium fonts. Take a print of it and then put a red circle and a slash through it to make a no sign. Then cut it out and tape it on a place you see many times a day. It can be your mobile phone screen, your watch, your computer screen, or your iPad screen. We look at these places hundreds of times a day. After one day, you will still be saying the verbal tics, but will be aware of you saying them. Your brain starts to develop a no sign around the phrase you unnecessarily speak in your conversations. After two to three days, you become more aware of uttering those words. They might still slip from your tongue, but you will be more conscious about them. After about a week, when you are about to say those words, that image is embedded to the extent that you stop saying it and hold or stop your talk. This is absolutely fine. You can pause without saying anything and then continue to talk. Taking a pause and continuing instead of using a filler will make you feel more comfortable, confident and relaxed.

Why do people use verbal tics and fillers?

Knowing the main reason for saying verbal tics can help find effective ways to eliminate them from your speech. The common reason for uttering these words discomfort. A speech, presentation, media interview and a voice mail are different from a normal conversational mode of speaking. When people become conscious that everybody is listening to them, they don’t want that moment of awkward silence, and at that moment, they say the verbal tics or filler. It is perfect for pausing for a moment. A lot of practical and effective tips are used to solve this problem which seems quite simple.

You are not alone in saying the verbal tics or fillers.

Everybody uses verbal tics in their conversation and saying it once in a while is not a big issue. Only when you say it too many times, it stands out, and becomes prominent in your conversation. Using too many verbal tics may be like having a comma after every word in a cover letter sentence or any piece of writing. It is certainly unnecessary and will not feel good. The elimination of verbal tics is not the absolute criteria for your speech or talk to be good or bad. It is a way to polish your talk. Many favorite broadcasters, politicians, and leaders say these tics and are heard widely. It is essential to consider that saying something worth listening to, exciting, and knowledgeable, is more important than eliminating the fillers. Focusing on what you have to say automatically reduces the verbal tics and fillers in your conversation. It will be extremely discouraging and anti-productive to set a goal of never saying these words; don’t be too harsh on yourself. The goal must be to minimize it in your talk and make an impressive talk which people are happy to listen to.

Focus on the content, not the verbal tics

If you want to eliminate the “umms”, “aahs” and you know from your conversation, don’t focus on not saying them. Instead, focus on the content and points you want to discuss and say. Make the content informative and fun. This will automatically reduce the verbal tics from your speech or talk. Feeling more confident about the material you will share with the audience will make you speak in a flow without stopping and using verbal fillers. Focus on communicating ideas of interest to the people you are speaking to during a public speech, presentation, or voice mail. Focus on helping the person you are speaking to by giving them ideas that are informative and useful.

Increase your comfort to reduce the verbal tics

The main reason for using verbal fillers in your speech is the feeling of discomfort about your content. The audience may not be much interested in hearing you. This is a natural and genuine feeling as talks, speeches, and presentations usually get boring. Increase your comfort level by being more confident about what you are going to say in your talk. Suppose you are sure that you have a great message or an exciting idea for the person or group you are speaking to, and your speech is enjoyable, understandable, and memorable. In that case, you will forget to use verbal fillers in your talk.

Another way to increase your comfort is to use smaller, natural easy words coming to your mind in a flow. These are the best words and do not stop to memorize the large, impressive, or bulky words you wrote for your speech or talk. Use the word that comes to your mind, and the more critical thing is to convey your view or idea impressively and interestingly so that people will like to listen to it. When you don’t entangle yourself in looking for words, you reduce the verbal fillers used when you try to remember those words.

Final thought

Verbal tics and fillers can make you feel less confident, so try to reduce their use in your conversations. People use them when they feel uncomfortable or are not confident about the content they will share with the audience. Using verbal tics is a common thing, and it is not a criterion of being famous or popular in good speaking. Please focus on the content and make it informative and enjoyable, which will cause you to forget to use the verbal fillers in your conversation or media presentations.

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