Dirty Words


(By Randy Lane) Have you ever noticed yourself using filler words such as “kinda,” “sorta,” or “like?” Last week’s Coaching Tip about “Trash Talk” prompted me to think about my own filler words. I’m noticing myself using fillers such as “Uh,” “you know,” and “let me ask you a question.” Damn it, I’m not practicing what I teach!

Many air talents and podcasters use them to sound friendlier and more conversational. However, words like “basically,” “actually,” and “really” water down your message. They can make you sound unsure of yourself or unprepared. Also, filler language clutters your message and diminishes clarity.

Disclaimers are a form of filler phrases. American/French communications coach David Page says disclaimers preceding a point like “in my opinion,” “I think,” or “I’m just saying” not only weaken your viewpoint, they reduce it to yours alone. Conversely, he says cleanly making the statement (“In The Heights is the best musical ever!”) sounds like a universal truth.

RLC and Own the Room communication coach Jeff McHugh says, “Silence is the opposite of weak language. Many air talents and podcasters feel the need to fill every inch of space and they miss dramatic moments created by silence.” We remind personalities that dead air is good!

Overcoming Filler Words and Phrases

Clean and concise language is a learned and conscious skill for most of us. Try these tips to clean up your language.

  • Like any new habit, be conscious of your presentation. When you notice yourself using a filler word, concentrate on avoiding them the rest of that segment.
  • Caution: Focusing too much on avoiding fillers can make you sound robotic. It’s a delicate balance between focusing on your language and being authentic and conversational.
  • Silence strengthens your message. When you need to collect your thoughts, simply pause, then move forward. As Mark Twain said, “No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
  • The more prepped you are, the more your presentation will flow effortlessly without weak language.

Randy Lane launched his media talent coaching and personal brand development company in 1996. He can be contacted by phone at 805.231.5746 or email at [email protected].



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