How Umming and Erring in a speech can improve your believability.

I came across an interesting paper, while researching an upcoming presentation, called “Exploring Filler Words and Their Impact” by Emily Duvall, Aimee Robbins, Thomas Graham and Scott Divett. It’s a report looking at filler words, their impact on credibility of the speaker and comprehension of the listener.

It’s a subject I have always found interesting. Although it does make me cringe a little as I once had a colleague who would count my “Umms” and “Errs” during meetings and give me a total at the end! It did mean that I quickly learnt to speak more slowly so that I had time to think of the next word without “filling”.

It may come as no surprise that using too many “uhhs” and “umms” diminishes your credibility but they also found that not using any during impromptu speech diminishes your believability. And the overall finding is that the “most effective speech occurs when filler words are used moderately”. So, while I have to thank my colleague for reducing my “Umms” and “Errs” I am delighted to know that my inability to remove them all is a good thing!

Hopefully that will also give reassurance to some of our clients who are overly worried that they use filler words when presenting.

The paper shows that there are usually 3 causes – not being totally focussed on what you are saying, nerves and using words that are not usual (or that you don’t use frequently). And all of these have solutions … practice, stay focussed and don’t use “business speak” or words that you think you should be using because of who your audience is.

The gist of what they have found out is that if you use too many filler words … people stop listening to you, thinking you are inexperienced or unprepared. If you use too few … your audience may not believe you because you appear too rehearsed and if you stop worrying about them and use them occasionally … you will come across as more genuine and be better understood.

Not sure how you come across? We offer a video review for just £99 + vat where we will give you feedback on your delivery and we’ll include an overview of whether you are using too many filler words or not!  Book a call to find out more.

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