Public Speaking Mentor

Never stopped Bob Hawke but it might stop you.

Never stopped Bob Hawke but it might stop you.


We’re all guilty of it, some much more than others – using filler words. Um, er, ah. Even worse, ‘like’ and ‘you know.’ Sound familiar?

An occasional lapse is OK but when it becomes part of your everyday delivery it can have a strong, negative impact on who you’re talking to.

It could be the difference at a job interview.

Former Australian PM Bob Hawke wearing a gaudy Australia

Former Australian PM Bob Hawke

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke was famous for his long, drawn out ‘ahhhhhs’ parodied by a legion of comedians and impersonators.

It didn’t seem to hinder Hawkeys’ rise to the top but for most of us using filler words is a big no no.

To quote speech coach Anett Grant ‘The more filler words you use, the more you diminish yourself as a speaker. You may be extremely capable and confident in what you are saying, but when you use too many filler words, your audience’s attention is deflected away from your message and instead becomes focused on you as the messenger.

Your audience begins to wonder if you are unsure of yourself. And if they think you are unsure of yourself, they begin to doubt you and they begin to doubt your message.

Another reason filler words are a big deal is because they interrupt the flow of your ideas. The more filler words you use, the more you invite distraction and your ideas constantly skip.

Worse yet, if your audience starts picking up on a particular filler word that you use often, they start focusing on it.

They may even start counting—”How many times did he say, ‘uh?’” or “Can you believe how many times she said, ‘like?’”—and you’ll lose your audience to the math.

To clear up your speaking, you need to analyze the patterns of where your “ahs” and “ers” appear. There are three common patterns: transitional, structural, and verbal.’… more

Annet Grant is a speech coach with over 35 year experience and her article is well worth reading.

If you would like some help overcoming ums, ahs, and like, contact me now.


Graeme Goodings


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