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Answer to a common public speaking question:

“How can I stop my habits of using filler words?”

This episode explains why people use filler words and how to avoid them during your speech or presentation.

00:00 Welcome to ‘Steal the Show’ with Michael Port. From speeches, to job interviews, to deal-closing pitches, how to guarantee a standing ovation for all the performances in your life. This is Friday fan-mail, common and comical public speaking questions and answers. You have questions, I’ve got the answers. And if you’d like the answers, head on over to and check out all of the bonuses I give you when you buy the book ‘Steal The Show’. Content creation, storytelling templates, tickets to live events around the country, public speaking video documentaries, and online training programs, and much, much more. My goal in life is to delight and entertain you, and to help you think bigger about who you are and what you offer the world. Today’s question comes from Julia Gerbershank, I hope I pronounced that properly. Hi, Julia, thank you for your question. Her question is, “How can I stop my habits of using filler words?” Um, well like, you can, um. You see, it’s a common nervous habit to use filler words. The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. The better rehearsed you are, the less you will use them.

01:21 So if I’m not really sure what I’m gonna say, I need a lot of, “Um… Ah… Well… ” So okay, so I need a lot of that if I’m not connecting my thoughts, but if I’m well-rehearsed, I can connect my thoughts because these filler words are words you use to connect your thoughts. So as I said, if my thoughts are already connected, if the grid has been written in my brain because I have rehearsed all this material, then that is not as much of a problem. Additionally, we’re often uncomfortable with silence so we will fill it with those filler words. And sometimes when we’re in a conversation, we have more to say and we don’t want the other person to start speaking so will we use, “Um, um, um,” so we’re telling them we have more to say and they shouldn’t jump in. If you need to hold somebody off for a second because you’re trying to think of something, you can just put your hand up and just say, “Hold on one sec, I need to… I need to think of this,” and then in that silence, you can do that. But if you’re in a presentation, the key is being better rehearsed or… I should say and/or not or, because I want you to rehearse. And/or, allow yourself to sit in that silence, connected to the audience, until the next thought comes to you without filling up that silence with filler words.

02:48 “So this is Michael Port, um, uh, talking about ‘Steal The Show’, which is like, um, a great book. So Okay. So anyhow, yeah.” Now if I know what I’m going to say, that doesn’t happen. So here’s what I’m gonna say write a review that is five stars and subscribe to the podcast and I’ll keep delivering great short-form and long-form content to you based on my book ‘Steal The Show’. You can buy “Steal The Show” anywhere books are sold, and you can get it with lots of bonuses worth up to $84,000 at True story, go check it out. Thank you for your time, I never take it for granted. I want you to think big about who you are and what you offer the world and I want you to shine in all the spotlight moments of your life. This is Michael Port signing off.