How to cut the ‘ums,’ uhs,’ and ‘literallys’ when speaking

Using these filler words when you speak will annoy your listeners and torpedo your credibility. Stop it.

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It’s inserted into sentences for no real reason.


I am literally the hungriest person in the world right now. I am literally going to break this printer in a minute. The coffee machine is literally the slowest thing on the planet.

Sound familiar? Maybe you even use it that way. You are not alone. Similar to “um” and “uh”, “literally” has become a filler word—tossed into sentences needlessly.

Others include:

Just … Like… Actually… So… Honestly… (as if you’ve been lying up until now)

What’s your filler word? You probably have one and you just don’t know it.

A couple of years ago, a client flew me to Australia. I wanted to powerfully raise awareness, and I started using the word “truly” to heighten emotion. Truly, truly, truly. I was inserting it everywhere. Once it was brought to my attention, I focused on it, and I was able to get rid of it that very day.

Become aware of your habits, and learn what your filler words are. We often pick them up from other people. Sometimes we turn to them when we are in a particular situation such as when we are presenting in front of a room, when we are excited or nervous, or when we have to deliver bad news.

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