A few of you have mentioned that you struggle with using too many filler words, words like "ummm" and "like" when you interview for podcasts or testimonials. There are a few techniques to remove them from your speech, but none work overnight. Habits are hard to break, but it can be done. Below I talk about several of the techniques, everyone's different, try the ones that work for you. But be open-minded and persistent, if one doesn't work .. try another.
The technique can yield amazing results and should be step one no matter what other strategies you use. Choose a topic you are likely to talk about in your interviews and record yourself with your phone. Next, play it back and asses your performance. You may find out you aren't really overusing the terms. If you are, take note of the words you do use too much and think about substituting a pause, or connecting terms like "in addition" or "on the other hand," or "another concept is..."
Now record yourself again. Take note of the improvements you make and focus on duplicating success. Do this two or three times a day, add in whatever techniques below work for you, and you will get better.
Organize Your Thoughts
Sometimes we use filler words because we're not quite sure what we're going to say next. In an interview setting, this can cause your guest to lose confidence in the process. Take time to organize your thoughts, create outlines and checklists, and keep practicing. When your thoughts are organized, you can move more smoothly from one idea to the next without the "umm"s.
A pause is a great substitute for filler words. While a filler word may reduce your credibility, a pause often engages the listener's attention. When you are interviewing someone, you are in a position of control, they will not usually jump in or interrupt during a pause.
Make Eye Contact
There are many reasons you might be using these filler words when you interview someone; to give yourself time to move to the next thought, to keep the guest on notice that you aren't done speaking, to fill uncomfortable silence, or to cover nervousness. Good eye contact with your guest can help you build rapport and connection with your guest. If you record your interviews in person, try it.
There is a considerable body of work on the concept of "chunking." The basic idea is that the brain can hold a certain number of ideas at once in its short-term memory. Some experts suggest chunking information and using that to develop a speaking rhythm. I haven't tried it, but if you're still stuck try a google search, there are lots of articles out there, then let me know if it works for you!
If you're dedicated to improvement, you'll get there. Just keep practicing with a recorder and playing it back.
On March 27th I was envious of the "pause" to reassess and learn I kept hearing about. I was fortunate enough to still be working, so I committed to a more active blog. This is my chance to think out loud about podcasting, messaging, story, nature, family and life.
~ Marion Abrams