Are These Common Fillers Bringing Down Your Speech?

How often do you use filler words in your everyday speech? Everyone injects a filler in to their speech once in a while to buy themselves a moment to think or organize their thoughts. However, fillers become a problem when overused. Using too many fillers can distract from your message and can completely change your listener’s perception of you, making you seem unprofessional, unprepared, and even unintelligent.

If you’re using more than two fillers every two minutes, you’re likely distracting your listener and undermining your credibility.

Recently, we were asked which words and phrases qualify as fillers. Any word that doesn’t add content to your message can be considered a filler. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common fillers people use in American English. It’s important to note that some of these words are only fillers depending on the context they’re used in. For example, the word “so” often plays an important role in speech (e.g., for emphasis, “I’m so upset,” or to indicate cause and effect, “He left early, so I had to stay late to finish the project.”).

Related: Can Vocal Fry Hurt Your Career?

However, many people habitually inject “so” at the beginning of their sentences where it doesn’t add any meaning (e.g., “So, as you can see here, our sales have risen for the past three quarters.”). To figure out whether a word is functioning as a filler or not, try removing it from your sentence to see if it changes the content or tone.

Some of the most common fillers in American English are:

  • um
  • uh
  • ah
  • like
  • you know
  • so
  • just
  • okay
  • right
  • actually
  • basically
  • I guess
  • These are just a few of the most common fillers in American English. Everyone has their own personal habits, and you may find your fillers aren’t on this list. Have we forgotten to add one to the list? Let us know in the comment section. Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we’ll talk about Corporate Speech Solutions’ four-step system for identifying and reducing fillers in your professional speech.