Underwater - Hold Breath

Uhhhhh … How to Avoid “Filler” Sounds

Many of us want to eliminate the little sounds that we utter unintentionally when we talk. The “you know” language that just comes out sometimes. Can you train yourself not to do it? The answer is “yes”! In my experience, the best way to do that is the following:

Work on your breath first. It’s much harder if you are holding your breath. Make sure you are inhaling and exhaling continuously as you speak.

Close your mouth. Many people talk “fast” without pausing because they never really close their mouths. They also utter “filler” sounds for the same reason. To change this, it takes a little self control. Start by standing up as if you are going to introduce yourself publicly, and then say a few words. As you speak, remember to inhale before you start, speak while exhaling, and then proactively close your mouth and inhale. Proactively means you plan to do this. You don’t just breathe when you are completely out of air. You do it earlier.

Keep a “cushion” of air at all times. When you inhale and then speak, make sure you aren’t “out of air” or what we sometimes call “below respiratory.” That means, you want to keep a “life vest” of breath so you are in a sense “floating” as you speak. You’ll then have time plenty of time to pause, close your mouth intentionally and breathe, and then open and exhale with speech without running out of air.

Practice while speaking impromptu. More and more, people are called on to speak up without preparing first. If this happens to you, you want to have good breathing and pausing habits so you have one less thing to worry about and can truly focus on your content.

2 replies
  1. Daniel Love
    Daniel Love says:

    Thank you Sajahan for this useful tip on making myself aware of my breathing, and being careful to close my mouth when I’m not speaking. I am a member of the Simply Speaking Toastmasters club here at SAIT Polytechnic. I am the ‘champion’ of “ums and Uhhhs” in our club. I need to stop this bad habit. Thanks for this advice. Sincerely, Daniel

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