5 Ways to Minimise the Use of Fillers in Meetings

We’ve all been there: caught off guard and in a situation where we just don’t know what to say – whether because we are unprepared for a meeting, we are struggling to answer a question or we are engulfed by the sudden onset of mental block while we are trying to deliver the agenda.

It is during these moments that we are either rendered speechless or we end up mumbling “uh” and “ums” – the so-called, ‘fillers’.

It’s not really that big an issue when these fillers are used but they might imply that the person speaking is unsure of themselves. The use of fillers should be minimised to further enhance yourself as a professional.

Nervous speaker


Here are some helpful strategies for you to try:

Awareness is the key
Try to record yourself while speaking, then listen and study your habits – only then will you notice how frequently you use fillers. Always be honest with yourself – remember, you cannot change what you do not acknowledge.

Chunking and developing rhythm
This technique involves speaking in short bursts, taking a break before saying another chunk. Chunking forces you to slow down your speech and helps you to develop a rhythm – so you’re less likely to get lost in ‘fillersville’. Rather than delivering your speech in a big block of text, you should break it into smaller chunks.

Gaze at your audience
When in a casual conversation, it’s been said that you are far less likely to use filler words if you make eye contact with the person you’re talking to. The same goes when speaking to the attendees in meetings: experiment with turning your torso and gaze towards each person in the room, giving them your utmost attention.

Get ready
When fillers start to fall from your lips, you are subtly telling your attendees that you are still gathering your thoughts. Instead of using the ‘uh’ and ‘ums’, opt for a better alternative such as transitional phrases. These go-to transitions are a great way to make your speech more ‘natural’ – reducing your dependence on fillers.

Be comfortable with silence
A sudden awkward silence gives us the urge to break into fillers. This isn’t actually a good technique to practice; rather, try being silent instead of resorting to filler words. By pausing after every sentence, this can also help the room to get used to it – you will then realise it isn’t that bad after all!

The occasional filler is fine and there is no need for them to be completely eliminated, as everyone uses them from to time. Just keep calm like a professional, throwing in the occasional filler here and there…that will be fine.

Here’s something that requires no ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’… Gather your colleagues and subordinates in one of our training rooms in London and free their potential! Phone &Meetings on 0800 073 0499 to learn more about our venues.

Posted by Sara Cano


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