Don’t Use Filler Words When You Speak

Do you know how often in conversation you use “uhs” and “ums?” Here are a couple of simple strategies for finding out.

You know, when you talk, sometimes the next point you want to, um, make, you know, doesn’t like come to you, uh, right away. So, um, I mean, you know, well, you’ve got to use some filler words.

Ready to strangle me?

In conversation, silence is a valuable tool. A speaker can use a well-placed second of silence to make his points more powerfully. It can give the listener a chance to digest the last point and ready herself to fully focus on the next one.

But even in cases where you’re not trying to underscore a point or add dramatic flair, silence is better than all those filler words I used in that first paragraph above.

If you need a fraction of a second to come up with your next word, take it, quietly. Don’t add a series of ums and uhs and likes and you knows to fill the air.

Now, chances are you don’t even know you’re doing this. So find out. Ask a trusted friend or colleague. Make a tape of yourself speaking. When you’re in conversations, pay attention to whether you use filler words like this—and, if you do, make a conscious effort to stop.

Your listener will thank you.

About the Author

Robbie Hyman is a professional communications and public affairs writer. He has 15 years’ experience writing for nonprofits, small business and multibillion-dollar international organizations and is available as a freelance writer for federal agencies.

Robbie has written thousands of pages of content, including white papers, speeches, published articles, reports, manuals, newsletters, video scripts, advertisements, technical document and other materials. He is also co-founder of, an online course that teaches smart money habits to teenagers.