Nearly everyone has or still do use ‘Um’ and ‘Like’ when speaking in public, or sitting in an interview, or just speaking in general. I know I am a culprit of this as well.
Almost every language has its own version of ‘Um’ or ‘Like’ for example: French say ‘eh’, Italians say ‘allora’.
But why do we say these fillers? What causes us to use then? Is it politeness? or is it a part of social anxiety? and do they play a vital role in our society?
As speakers, we try to be aware of speaking in a way so that an individual understands and processes what we are saying and when we use these words, we unconsciously are being aware of helping the person process what we are saying. Sometimes, when we are speaking, your brain is searching for the right terms to use and we have a mind blank – it happens. You are trying to say something but your brain hasn’t quite caught up yet.
Majority of people become anxious when there is silence in the room – it can be said that we use these fillers to keep the audience engaged or to fill a silent room.
Professionals suggest that silence is more powerful than using filler words such as ‘um’ or ‘like’ or ‘uh’. It is important to do a full stop on a sentence and then begin with the next sentence rather than fill the full stop with a ‘UM’. Silence can also be a good thing because generally our brains are always a few seconds behind so we need silence in order to process the information we have just received.
CAN WE STOP OURSELVES FROM SAYING ‘UM’?
Doing this will be difficult because we are conditioned to say ‘Um’ or ‘Like’ almost after every second or third word we speak.
HERE ARE MY TOP TIPS ON HOW TO STOP YOURSELF USING THESE FILLERS
- Envision punctuation in your speech when you are talking
- Power posing – stand up confidently, head up, shoulders back: these help you breathe better
- Psyche yourself up – give yourself a little pep talk before you go into any of these situations