How Verbal Fillers Affect your Speech

Assume someone is presenting a speech in front of a huge audience. What were the first words they spoke? "Uh…hi." That is it. That is all it takes to have verbal fillers alter your speech. The speaker continues, "Uh, but umm, like, hmm, you know, I mean, I guess "With each filler, the audience gets less clear, and the speaker grows more uneasy. By the end, both parties are relieved it is done.

What are Verbal Fillers & How do they affect your speech?

Verbal fillers are those not-so-meaningful words that we use to fill the gaps in our speech. Consider them as the noises our minds produce.While these needless sounds have a minor impact on our informal interactions, they render our language repetitive, distracting, and uninteresting when it comes to public speaking!

Verbal fillers, often known as crutch words, are surprisingly prevalent. Non-content words account for around 3-5% of total speech. Naturally, a speech without filler sounds mechanical, therefore removing them is not the objective. Reducing our fillers is a more attainable aim, and appropriate public speaking training may help us achieve this with a few important exercises. Linguists refer to this as speech disfluencies, which disturb the natural flow of speech if not managed properly.

Using filler words for psychological reasons

Often,we use these fillers in our everyday speech resulting in getting habituated to it. This behavior gets ingrained in the brain and becomes a part of our speech.

According to Christenfeld and Creager, a pair of personality and social psychologists, increasing self-consciousness is another factor. It might be due to a fear of public speaking (also known as stage fright) or an unfamiliarity with the audience. Lack of understanding of the subject may also be a barrier to successful verbal communication. Constant use of linguistic fillers might also indicate a lack of confidence in expressing oneself. These considerations are not restricted to the human psyche; they also apply to our speech and language conditioning. We observe, hear, and learn. During their early years, children learn the basics of language by listening to their parents, instructors, and their environment.

Perhaps, one more reason could be our thinking process not matching up with our talking speed and vice versa. So, to articulate better speech, it’s crucial to pause and think rather than pause and use unnecessary fillers.

Excessive fillers disengage Audience

Using too many fillers lowers verbal intelligibility and fails to convey the desired message. The most important aspect of delivering a speech is keeping your audience engaged. Repetitive use of phrases like "I think," "I mean," or "I guess" might convey uncertainty. The use of too many fillers leads the audience's attention to drift away from the discourse.

Disturbed Flow and tone of speech

Speech should flow as effortlessly as butter on toast. Excessive fillers reduce that smoothness. Otherwise, it is difficult to grasp what the speaker is trying to say. In this way, the essential message may become lost in the shuffle. This is why public speakers place so much importance on the flow and tone of their speeches. Want to be a credible speaker? Eliminate unnecessary linguistic fillers.

Comprehension of Listener Limited

Spontaneous speech naturally has some disfluencies as the speaker is continuously ideating their thoughts and concepts. All a listener wants to hear is a clear and easy-to-follow message. But having a varied number of long pauses and disfluenciescauses limitations in understanding the substance of the speech.

Resolution and Skill Enhancement

Find out what’s the reason behind you using so many fillers. Is it because you are nervous? Or are you just habituated to using them? One solution to this is to take public speaking classes. A teacher or a trainer can help you with improving your speaking skills. Check out our video here  on our youtube channel or below about 98thPercentile Public Speaking students and see what they have got to say.

Identify the most commonly used fillers when you speak next time and note them down. Find alternative phrases to replace them. One easy way to do so is by filming yourself or recording yourself when you speak.
  • Deliberately slow down- pause when need be. There is no need to rush down the thought process. The clarity in speech occurs when you slow down a bit.
  • Reduce the filler usage consciously and then practice, practice, practice. Practice with your peers or with yourself in front of the mirror daily. Don’t undermine the power of practicing.
  • Polish your vocabulary. Get familiar with new words. Read more and add new terms in your vocab and make an effort to use them throughout the daily conversations.
  • Listen to other people talk. Listen to your favorite sports commentary or watch a lengthy documentary. Take notes of new words and observe how people speak.

Not utilizing filler words, or using them excessively, might impair the speaker's credibility. As long as you communicate properly and organically persuade the audience to deliver your message, we may conclude that your task is beneficial and done. Training with a coach might also help you gain reputation as a speaker. So, 98thPercentile is conducting a masterclass on Verbal Fillers for children in grades 3 to 8 on 12th December 2021. Qualified and experienced teachers will host the masterclass, followed by winning activities to analyze the children’s skills. Click Here to learn more about the masterclass and register with us today for no penny charged. Try our free trial classes today!

Filler words break up the flow of discourse, disconnect the audience, and reduce the listener's comprehension. To become a better speaker, minimize your consumption and integrate practice sessions.On December 12, 2021, 98thPercentile will provide a live workshop on Verbal Fillers, as well as some engaging, enjoyable exercises for grades 3 through 8.