When thinking about this blog post, I was compelled to say, "get rid of them...never use them, cut them out". However, the reality is that it is human nature to use such filler words. Why? An occasional filler word never killed anyone and honestly, your use of a filler word may make you seem more human. Ok, I am totally not justifying the use of the filler word, but make it a point of yours to realize how much or little you actually use them.
And please, let me be clear, I am not just talking about filler words, but filler phrases too, like "you know", "what I'm trying to say is", "I think/believe" etc. Don't be afraid to jump right into an answer. This comes with practice.
If you need practice, contact me today and let's set something up. In fact, I am so confident that I can help you improve your interview skills and techniques that I'll give you your first 20 minute phone session free. Contact me (Victory) for more info: BeVictoriousPrep@gmail.com
Here is a "strategy" to help you reduce the frequency with which you use the fillers...
1. Make a decision to note how often you use them.
Be more conscientious of your usage of the words and sounds that plague your communication skills. I suggest recording yourself answering a few questions and listening back to the recording - make notes: be honest, how many times did you need a filler? Jot that down. Redo the taping with the same questions with the previous usage of fillers in your mind, listen to the new taping, note any difference.
You can always try new sets of questions, give mini-speeches etc for practice.
And yes, recording yourself via video, phone, recorder, etc all count! You could also have a family member ask you questions and make a tally each time you use a filler...trust me, you'll become more conscientious of it!
Questions for yourself: is my use of these filler words hurting my interview? Do I sound like I'm always looking for the right word? Do I sound as though I lack intelligence? Or is it almost invisible? Be honest.
2. Think about why you are even using them.
What is going on in your mind when you use these fillers? Are you nervous? Are you trying to process too quickly. Are you just spitting out answers? Do you fear that if you don't use filler you'll be interrupted?
The judge will rarely interrupt you - they want to see if you can finish your thought (honestly, we are human and just want to hear you speak). There is no need to signal the judge that you are nervous, need a second, etc.
Judges understand that you are nervous, but I assure you, there is no reason to use a filler to fill dead space. You can honestly breathe for 3-5 before answering a question and it won't be awkward...honest.
3. Prepare better.
Ms. Jerri says it best, "Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance".
Perhaps you use those filler words when you are unsure of what to say next...you are searching for the next best thing to say. Your failure to prepare well creates worry in your mind - your brain freaks out, your heart starts pounding, and you begin to dig for words and thoughts from your memory.
Or perhaps you are well-prepared but just nervous. Your nerves cause you to speed up what you're saying and just interject a filler to not sound crazy or over-rehearsed.
Prepare better by getting adequate rest (so your brain can be sharper and quicker) and enough practice (trust me, contact me). You'll also need a light meal before interviews (and yes, brush your teeth after you eat...cornflakes aren't too pretty).
4. Slow down!
Give your brain some time to catch up to what you're saying. Not to mention, give the judges the time to catch on to what you're saying. It may come out of your mouth 33 seconds into the interview, but it may not click with a judge until 55 seconds in the interview. Let them (and you) catch up; slow down, it is ok!
And yes, embrace your pauses. Pausing never killed anyone either; my rule of thumb is 3-5 seconds will keep an interview from going awkward and you'd be surprised how many thoughts run through your mind in 3-5 seconds!
5. Be patient.
You will not stop using your filler words automatically; it is a process.
Try to tape yourself once a week or every few practice interviews; tally your usage each time...it will become less overtime. And please, make a real effort to eliminate the fillers in everyday conversation - not just when being interviewed. You would never want to nail the interview and win the title, but then never be invited to speak anywhere as the titleholder....
I do hope this blog post made sense and connected with some of you. Don't forget: If you need practice, contact me today and let's set something up. I am so confident that I can help you improve your interview skills and techniques that I'll give you your first 20 minute phone session free. Contact me (Victory) for more info: BeVictoriousPrep@gmail.com
And even if you don't want the free 20-minute session, just send me an email letting me know what the article meant to you, if it helped etc! I would appreciate the feedback!
With your success in mind,