Day 15: Dealing with Ummm, Ahhh… Fillers

My daughter, now 5, started speaking at 16 months. When she started to talk, she did so in straight sentences, albeit, of course, simple ones. No baby talk phase, much to our pleasant surprise. At this time, because she hears us talk and I, personally am and was (more so before) with fillers. She started using them as well.

As early as 2 years old, I asked her to stop using ummms and ahhhs. Perhaps, because she’s a child, she eliminated it, just like that. In an instant! I was so inspired that this also fueled my journey in dealing with my own habit of using fillers.

Yesterday, we talked about grammar and nonstandard words, both need to be in order. And no matter how standard your words are and how perfect your grammar is, if you fill your sentences with fillers (pun intended), you still will not sound confident.

Now, let me share some of the techniques that helped me. Let me know how it works out for you, too.

Day 15 Challenge: Deal With Your Fillers

Relax. The goal is not to eliminate but to minimize.

Never “Wing It,” Always Prepare.

It sometimes baffles me how entry level staff and team leaders, and sometimes even managers can say, “I’ll just wing it,” as we talk about their presentations. While more senior leaders would take time – hours to days – preparing for their presentations.

Lack of preparation will lead to lots of fillers. You will of course struggle with transitions, words to use, reasons, etc. As you do, you inevitably will have fillers to cover up and in search for your next thing to say.

Always prepare. Prepare your material, yourself and the concepts and overall delivery of your presentation.

Observe, Be Aware

When I was a Customer Service Representative, we were adviced to count our fillers and try to reduce them. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to count and tally your fillers. Instead, I will ask you to listen to yourself and be conscious of your fillers. Heightened awareness.

This, combined with the other tips here will be a powerful solution to your filler problems.

Pause, it’s Ok

You do not need to fill every gap. Gaps are important, too. They allow your listeners to grasp what you said. It allows you to emphasize your point. It adds drama. That is, if used well. So, do not shy away from a pregnant pause but make it count.

Try these as you deal with your fillers and you are sure to have more fluid, engaging and confident presentations!

Thank you! Glad to have you back!

For Strengths Coaching and HR Consulting, please send an email to As a Gallup-Certified  Strengths Coach, I am happy to join your personal, family and team development journey. 

Book a session with me.

For more HR, Employee and Leadership related topics, follow me on Engagement Imperative, LinkedIn and  Facebook

5 thoughts on “Day 15: Dealing with Ummm, Ahhh… Fillers

  1. Thank you for this! And I thought I was the only one who disliked people saying “ano” or “kuwan” to refer to something, when that item clearly has a name. I mean, am I expected to read people’s minds and give them exactly what they need – when I do not know what exactly it is they want?

  2. Speaking of fillers, I am still in the process of coming to grips with the fillers that Filipinos use, like “kuwan” and “ano”.
    Recently I got a message that said: “mamaya, pagkatapos ng ano natin kuwan tayo”. How can I possibly know kung ano ang kuwan na gagawin namin kung hindi ko alam muna kung ano ang ano?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enter Captcha Here :