“Um, like, so, I was going to do it, but then, um, like I didn’t. You know what I mean?” This unfortunate sentence is a stereotype for our generation of teens and young adults. Sadly, this stereotype usually is true, with many young adults (and working professionals, too) speaking like this on a daily basis. In the business world, young adults who talk in ‘like’, ‘so’ and ‘um’ are immediately looked down upon. People think, “oh, he’s just another millennial”, and form preconceptions about you that may be detrimental to you. Whatever the case, if you don’t sound professional when you speak, you won’t be treated like a professional.
Let’s do a quick experiment. Grab the nearest person (or yourself) and ask them to ask you this simple question: What are your interests and/or hobbies? Sounds like a simple question, right? It should be easy to talk about things that you like to do, especially in a casual environment. But, before they ask the question, ask them to stop you when you say any one of these words: um, uh, er, ah, like, okay, so, basically, right and ‘you know?’.
If you try really hard during your conversation, you’ll probably find yourself pausing a lot, trying to not say any of these words. Eventually, when you get more comfortable, you’ll let one slip in. How long did you last? Probably 45 seconds, at most. The startling majority of us would be ashamed to listen to ourselves speaking, due to the sheer amounts of ‘ums’ and ‘likes’ that enter our conversations.
These words are called filler words, and are really hard to get rid of, because most of the time we don’t even know that we’ve said one. This is why you have to consciously train yourself to not say these words. That’s where the app LikeSo comes into play. I was introduced to this app by its creator in a seminar at a local high school. Since then, I’ve made an effort to remove filler words from my life, and this app has been immensely helpful in the quest for a higher level of communication.
The app has two modes to help train you to remove fillers. The first is called talk about. In this mode, you are given speaking prompts, from a certain type of conversation. Topics include; a job interview, a debate, and small talk. You select talk time and the words that you would like to train against. I usually select all of them, because none are desirable in a real conversation. Then you run through five prompt questions. When you do them, you will find yourself actually thinking about what you are saying, and catching the fillers. Eventually, this will become second nature, and you won’t pause to think anymore. It will become second nature, just like fillers are now. As I wrote in another blog post, “you need to replace a bad habit with a good one”.
The other mode is set up for freestyle speaking, where there are no prompts. I don’t use this to train myself to remove fillers, but it is very interesting to turn it on throughout your day. Turn it on when you are on a phone call, or when someone is talking. When you are done it will tell you how many filler words were uttered.
For more info on how the app actually works, click here.
With about two 20 minute sessions a week, my filler words have decreased drastically. I think of it as an investment in my future skills. Being able to speak at a higher level could help me get a big job or a deal. If (and when) either of these things happens, the investment will definitely have paid off. Speaking of investment, the app costs $2, but believe me, its worth it. Even if you switch from using basic fillers like ‘anyways’ to more complicated fillers like ‘pretty much this means…’ will benefit your speaking skills.
If you are able to train yourself to get rid of filler words, you will be treated at a higher level in the working world. If you are well spoken, believe me, you will gander much more respect than someone who uses more ‘likes’ than nouns when they speak. While filler words are only a part of learning to speak better, they are the biggest piece of the puzzle and something that you could actually train yourself to change.
*This is not an advertisement. I found this app really usefull to me and wanted to share it with all of you.