Have a look at the following list of words and mentally tick off which ones you hear people use in meetings or when presenting in a more formal context.
- Let me say that
- As you can see
- As you already know
- In fact
- In addition
- So anyway
These words are some common examples of linguistic fillers and they usually have little, if any, meaning.
When you listen to others speak, how often do they use these fillers?
How do you feel when they do?
What do you notice about the emotional state of the speaker using them?
Do you get an impression of confidence or panic?
Now think about yourself.
Be honest… how many do you use regularly ? A few? several ? Or is it all of them at one time or another?
Or maybe you’re not sure…..
If you do you then you are guilty of using what I call “Presentation Collagen”!
Collagen is used as a dermal filler to cosmetically plump out the skin and remove fine lines and wrinkles.
In terms of linguistics a “filler” is a word that is used to fill in, to pad things out.
We tend to use them when we struggle to find something to say and because we don’t like silence we add words that fill the gap but don’t mean anything.
These phrases are like collagen – they pad out the presentation. They don’t add value or meaning. They do take up room though and when you read them in a list, the words may seem a bit ridiculous but they are remarkably common in presentations.
A few of these words or phrases sprinkled in a conversation don’t do much damage and in some cases, they may be appropriate.
But most of the time they damage your credibility because when you use them you can come across as being unsure of yourself, or lacking confidence or that you don’t really know what you are talking about.
Here are 3 things you can do instead…
1. If you feel nervous or unsure of what to say, then simply pause.
This gives you thinking time as well as giving the audience time to digest what you have already said. Silence is powerful and demonstrates gravitas and confidence.
2. If you find yourself using lots of these fillers then practise using them silently – say them in your head rather than out load and in that way your audience won’t notice.
3. If you have nothing to say, rather than use filler, just say nothing!
Until next time,
p.s. If you have any words to add to the list please add them in the comment box below.
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