Filler words: we’re all guilty of using them. Whether you start each sentence with “um” or punctuate every description with “like”, the frequency of our “empty words” often goes unnoticed. They frequently are utilized in moments of unprepared dialogue or mindless speaking. However, as innocent as these words can seem, they convey a message of unpreparedness and unprofessionalism. These are two messages that you do not want to send to your audience.
So what is the solution to this common presentation habit? Even the most prepared presenters cannot perfectly plan and articulate a speech. The key to giving yourself a break, without distracting your audience, is to take a break from words altogether. Nerves and adrenaline run rampant during public speeches, which can increase speech rate. This constant flow of information prevents audience members from fully grasping the magnitude of your message. While a break of silence might feel overwhelming to a presenter, they benefit the information absorption of the audience, as well as the presentation skills of the speaker.
Between points, give yourself a few seconds of silence to gather your thoughts and catch your breath. While this might initially feel uncomfortable, a breather will give you a chance to recuperate and your audience a chance to process the information you’ve shared. A pause of silence is also an opportunity for you to open a space for questions from the audience between slides, if applicable.
Without filler words integrated into your speech, your information will be clearer and processed more effectively. Audience members are able to better comprehend the speech, as words are given space to sink in without the distraction of a constant flow of information. Additionally, a break gives your voice a chance to rest, which improves the quality of your tone. With a more manageable speech rate and information flow, both the speaker and the audience will enjoy a smoother presentation experience.
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