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We all know (or are) that person who can’t get a point across without littering their diction with stray “likes,” “ums,” and “literallys.” Not only do these filler words complicate speech, they often cut at the speaker’s credibility. This is especially true in public speaking, where what you say pales in importance to how you say it. Ben Decker of Entrepreneur offers several tips on how to quickly and simply remove filler words from one’s lexicon. The secret? Don’t speak — listen.
What’s the Big Idea?
Decker’s strategies all revolve around the idea of identifying your own bad habits. First, try to watch yourself on video. It is important to observe yourself and listen to the patterns of your speech. Can you catch the places where filler words pop up? Usually it’s where a pause would go so Decker suggests practicing the art of the pause. Allow yourself to overemphasize them. Try slowing down your speech and see if you can boost the quality of your articulation. Finally, Decker recommends vocal projection and positive thinking. Mumblers (especially downtrodden mumblers) tend to rely on fillers. Positive thinking will save your diction:
“If you focus on the negative (saying too many ‘ums,’ ‘likes,’ and ‘honestlys’), it can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of filler word overload. Instead, focus on the positive. One of our coaches asks people to say the phrase, ‘I am a person that perfectly pauses’ out loud. Not only do you have to slow down and enunciate that phrase (so much alliteration), but it also shifts your focus to what you do well.”
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