Many people wish they could, um, stop using verbal fillers that can make them, like, sound, you know, nervous or not so smart.
These “um,” “aah,” “you know” and similar expressions are verbal pauses that happen when we are trying to think of the next thing we are going to say. When what we’re going to say is important or when we are nervous, during a job interview, presentation, or conference call, we tend not to breathe as much and we talk faster, so our words get ahead of our thoughts. We want the listener to pay attention.
Here are some tips to stop these expressions:
1. Awareness is the first step. You can try recording yourself in conversations and listen to the recordings five minutes a day for two weeks. This will help you become aware of your specific problems. You need to hear your “ums,” “likes,” and “you knows,” before you blurt them out. Ask people you trust to let you know when you are saying these verbal fillers.
2. Try to relax and take a deep breath when finishing a thought. A focus on breathing will make it more difficult to introduce a verbal filler. Instead, substitute silence. This might be awkward at first, but it’s better to have a moment of quiet than a “you know,” or “um.”