Speak With More Confidence Using Less Filler

by Eric Disco
Jan 23

It was the first approach of the night. I was in a bar in Washington DC with two students in tow. I approached and I was a bit nervous. I hadn’t opened anyone in DC yet. I start to talk to the girl. She’s not having it. I can feel it.

After a while she is trying to be bitchy and says “You know, you say the word ‘like’ a lot.” And she was right. Every other sentence I was, like, dropping in the word like as if it was, like, going out of style.

At first I was a bit irritated at her bitchiness. Now, I wish I could go back and thank her. Every once in a while I’ll get rejected and a girl will drop some clue like this that helps my game more than hours of self-analysis ever possibly could. So precious and rare.

The word ‘like’ is a filler word. Filler words are unnecessary and useless verbiage that people throw into conversation. They are useless and distracting. Beyond that, they convey a sense of nervousness and insecurity.

Filler words can be connector words between sentences, like starting each sentence with an unnecessary ‘so.’ They can be unnecessary words and phrases like ‘like,’ ‘right’ and ‘ya know.’ The most common and distracting fillers are non-word fillers including ‘uh’ and ‘um.’

Filler words are the verbal equivalent of nervous fidgeting.

When I teach guys about body language, I teach that whoever moves less has higher value. If you are playing with the label on your beer bottle, or moving your hands, or your stance, or any other part of your body, you are projecting nervousness and low confidence. Nervous fidgeting makes you come off like an 8-year-old on the playground. If the woman you are talking to is moving less than you, you come off as a child to her parent.

Beyond that, by allowing yourself to move to your nervousness, you are in fact becoming more nervous. If instead you act confident, you will feel confident.

The same holds true for using filler words. If you learn to cut out the nervous fidgeting in your speech, you can begin to feel more confident in high-pressure situations, i.e. talking to women.

One of the best ways to improve your speech is to go to Toastmasters. Among a number of other things, Toastmasters helps your game by having you speak in front of a group of people and keeping track of the number of filler words you use. Speaking in front of a large group of people is a great equivalent to speaking in the high-pressure situation forcing you to cut down on the number of “filler” in between your words. (I wrote a full article about my experience in Toastmasters here: How Public Speaking Can Make You More Confident Around Women)

But how can you learn to do this on your own? I have two recommendations:

1. Become aware of filler words. If you listen closely to people speaking, you will start to become hyper aware of all the ums, uhs, and other useless verbiage. You should begin to become aware of the filler words in your own speech. If you aren’t, you can record yourself speaking. Try recording a phone conversation and go back and listen.

2. Slow down your speech and filter your words. I began eliminating these words from my speech by slowing down and being very careful about what I was saying. At first it was awkward and weird. I felt clumsy and unrelaxed. But I eliminated a lot of the annoying filler. After a while I began to feel more comfortable speaking and watching what I was saying.


posted in Body Language

11 responses
Dragonclaw says:

Eric you make some great pointers when it comes to using pointless filler. I very rarely say “um” in conversations but I have had a habit with saying “like” alot and “so”. I think to some degree people use filler to fit in. They think it makes them appear more socially cool.

Im sorry but I’m going to have to argue something which you said:

“moving your hands, or your stance, or any other part of your body, you are projecting nervousness and low confidence.”

I think it depends on “how” you’re moving. If you’re talking to a woman and you’re completely unanimated you will come accross as very boring and probably a bit creepy. Maybe when you’re interacting with a woman and she seems really stiff and uneasy it’s because you’re probably being stiff and uneasy. I think you have to convey a fun attitude through your behaviour. Im not saying nervous body movements, I mean expressive body movements.

TC says:

Great post mate. I have found with everything you learn more from your mistakes then, when you are getting it right all of the time. I had approached a girl a while ago and she was on the move so I had to try and use my body language to draw the conversation to a halt and like you with the above example she was not having it. So i walked with her big, big mistake that is one of my big no no’s because i don’t want to look like some mut following her desperatly. In most situations I can stop them but this time I was out of luck, but i know it was a combination of voice tone, body language so I learnt a lot from that one.

UntitledAuthor says:

This would be a big problem for me because I say like a lot, even when I’m not nervous and in my most comfortable environment.
I think you can get away with it if you don’t really emphasize the “like”. One of my friends says it almost as much as I do, but he really emphasizes it, which makes it more noticeable and annoying.

george smith says:

I agree wholly with mr dragonclaw. touche.

Socialkenny says:

I know this post’s extremely out-dated,but it’s relevent.
They’re many filllers:like,well,so…,in the black community-you know what Im saying?

TAllagash says:

filler words and “If the woman you are talking to is moving less than you, you come off as a child to her parent.”

Dynamite. one of the best posts on game i’ve read in a long time. get rid of these telltale signs of nervousness and your success will increase, all other things being equal

A confident man’s silence is more captivating than a nervous man’s “um”s and “uh”s.

Coif says:

I agree, but with one exception: hand movements. Talking with your hands is charming IMO and it actually has to do with searching for words, so if you fight it you might hurt your performance in speaking.

Otherwise, I think if you improve your posture you’ll feel a million times better, breathe easier and those nervous tics will drop away. So work on posture.

Fleets says:

Filler words communicate uncertainty and a lack of confidence. I agree, best to be rid of them.

Good post, very few people will ever talk about this. Filler words show a lack of confidence and ability to hold conversation. They show nervousness, best thing to do is record your conversations.

I actually made a video on this a while back based on eliminating conversational fillers in order to sound more put together and confident.

I know a co-worker who uses like 100 fillers per minute SMFH!

Nice article Disco!