First, watch this video. What is your initial reaction? Thanks to the Speaking Fellows, mine was “don’t judge a book by its cover,” or in this case “don’t judge the girl by the way she speaks.” Content aside, the amount of fillers and qualifiers she uses in 49 seconds is unbelievable. What are fillers and qualifiers? Fillers are our typical “uhm,” or “like,” whereas qualifiers include phrases such as “this may be irrelevant but…” or “this may be wrong.”
My training as a Speaking Fellow taught me this. Fillers and qualifiers are extremely habitual and everyone uses them. Everyone. The next time that you catch yourself using one of these, you might become flustered because they are extremely difficult to eliminate. One golden rule that Speaking Fellows learn is that the first step in helping to reduce the amount of fillers and qualifiers we use is to become wary of them. This will help increase our awareness of how we say what we want to say.
If you forget what you want to say next, do not use “uhm,” or “like” to fill the silence. Take a deep breath. If you find yourself at a loss for words, silence is golden. You may feel awkward, but it’s okay to take a few moments to gather your thoughts (and yourself). As for qualifiers, or as one Speaking Fellow calls them, “disqualifying qualifiers,” they only serve to reduce or eliminate a speaker’s credibility. They do not reflect confidence. These can also be decreased through practice. When speaking to others, be more assertive. Never think that what you have to say is irrelevant, or even worse, not intelligent. Everyone has a different perspective.