The Credibility Code Mini Series

Spotlight on Fillers

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Facilitator Guide for Leading Live Meetings

Lesson One: Fillers - The most common derailer of all! (2:18)
The bottom line: Because fillers are so common, we often tune them out. However, excessive fillers can deflate the power of your message and undercut your appearance of confidence and preparedness.

Try this! Here’s an actual transcript of a famous public figure answering a reporter’s question. To hear the impact of speaking with and without fillers, read each of these statements out loud.

(Politician) "You know, I think really, um, this is sort of a unique moment both in our, you know, in our country's history, and, and in ... in, you know, my own life, and, um, you know, we are facing, you know, unbelievable um challenges."

Compare this to... "This is a unique moment in our country’s history and in my own life. We are facing unbelievable challenges.”

Which statement inspires more confidence in this politician’s capabilities and commitment to the cause?
Lesson Two: Why do we use them? (1:19)
The bottom line: While we are likely to have fewer fillers when we have rehearsed the message, the vast majority of our work conversations are unscripted. Learning to process your thoughts without fillers will help you to project confidence when you are well prepared AND when you are not.

Try this! To test how much you rely upon fillers to process, try speaking without fillers for a full two minutes while talking about your best friend or favorite relative. To raise the bar, record yourself on your cell phone. While it’s possible that you will have zero fillers while focusing on this exercise, the more reliable indicator of how ingrained this habit may be is how hard you must work to eliminate them. If the task takes concentrated effort, it’s a safe bet that you rely upon fillers in your everyday conversations.
Lesson Three: The #1 Skill Drill for Eliminating Fillers (2:29)
The bottom line: When it comes to conquering the filler habit, the good news is that all it takes is practice. And, the bad news is that it takes practice! There's simply no getting around the fact that the only way to make forward progress with this skill is to put in the practice time. However, just a few minutes a day will pay off with fast results.

Try this! Raise the bar on this skill set by practicing with a live human being. Reach out to a trusted friend or coworker and ask them if they can spare a few minutes now or later today to help you play the Flag Game. Then, for three minutes discuss several places in the world you’d like to visit while your friend “flags” your fillers. You can do this exercise over the phone by using a noisemaker (buzzer, squeaky toy, clap) to act as an audible flag.
Lesson Four: The Flag Game Checklist: A Proven Solution (1:08)
The bottom line: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque nisi sapien, fringilla ut libero eu, pulvinar tristique leo. Fusce quis massa vulputate, faucibus sem in, hendrerit lacus. Ut est sem, sollicitudin sed ullamcorper a, iaculis nec massa. Maecenas rutrum varius quam.

Try this! Sed interdum elit lacinia venenatis auctor. Donec risus mauris, vehicula venenatis pretium viverra, imperdiet nec leo. Cras luctus efficitur commodo. Donec mauris leo, consectetur sit amet vestibulum eu, auctor eget mauris. Aenean egestas est et viverra ultricies. Mauris suscipit laoreet sapien, sit amet pretium metus. Sed ac congue lectus. In malesuada fringilla convallis. Maecenas id bibendum lectus.
Lesson Five: But if I pause, won’t people interrupt me? (0:52)
The bottom line: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque nisi sapien, fringilla ut libero eu, pulvinar tristique leo. Fusce quis massa vulputate, faucibus sem in, hendrerit lacus. Ut est sem, sollicitudin sed ullamcorper a, iaculis nec massa. Maecenas rutrum varius quam.

Try this! Sed interdum elit lacinia venenatis auctor. Donec risus mauris, vehicula venenatis pretium viverra, imperdiet nec leo. Cras luctus efficitur commodo. Donec mauris leo, consectetur sit amet vestibulum eu, auctor eget mauris. Aenean egestas est et viverra ultricies. Mauris suscipit laoreet sapien, sit amet pretium metus. Sed ac congue lectus. In malesuada fringilla convallis. Maecenas id bibendum lectus.
Lesson Six: Where Fun and Skill Building Intersect (1:03)
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Try this! Sed interdum elit lacinia venenatis auctor. Donec risus mauris, vehicula venenatis pretium viverra, imperdiet nec leo. Cras luctus efficitur commodo. Donec mauris leo, consectetur sit amet vestibulum eu, auctor eget mauris. Aenean egestas est et viverra ultricies. Mauris suscipit laoreet sapien, sit amet pretium metus. Sed ac congue lectus. In malesuada fringilla convallis. Maecenas id bibendum lectus.
Lesson Seven: Elevate Your Status in 60 Seconds or Less (0:50)
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Try this! Sed interdum elit lacinia venenatis auctor. Donec risus mauris, vehicula venenatis pretium viverra, imperdiet nec leo. Cras luctus efficitur commodo. Donec mauris leo, consectetur sit amet vestibulum eu, auctor eget mauris. Aenean egestas est et viverra ultricies. Mauris suscipit laoreet sapien, sit amet pretium metus. Sed ac congue lectus. In malesuada fringilla convallis. Maecenas id bibendum lectus.

Key Takeaways

  • Excessive use of fillers can negatively impact your appearance of confidence, focus, and preparedness. In addition, fillers lessen the potency of your message and the engagement of your listener.
  • In place of fillers, practice the pause.
  • Common filler words include um, ah, like, and, so, you know, kind of, actually, basically, I mean, right, and okay.

Key Takeaways

  • Because of selective attention, fillers can be “invisible gorillas” that wander through our conversations.
  • The only way to make meaningful progress in eliminating fillers is through sustained practice.
  • Playing the Flag Game with a partner is an ideal way to bring fillers under control.
  • Fillers are most prevalent when we speak unscripted, no matter how well we might know the subject.
  • Play board games like SoundBites, Taboo, Balderdash, and Superfight to practice thinking and speaking extemporaneously.
  • Though a common tactic, fillers are an ineffective way to stop interruptions. Signal your desire to keep speaking by engaging your body language, eye contact, and energy level.
  • An elevator pitch that is free of fillers or hesitation will create a stronger impression of credibility and confidence. Practice your pitch at networking events, conferences, or cocktail parties.
  • Practicing the two-snap pause will help you relax your pace AND eliminate fillers.
  • Since most people have the filler habit, mastering this skill will give you a secret advantage.

Tiny Habit & Field Trips

  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque nisi sapien, fringilla ut libero eu, pulvinar tristique leo.
  • Fusce quis massa vulputate, faucibus sem in, hendrerit lacus.
  • Ut est sem, sollicitudin sed ullamcorper a, iaculis nec massa. Maecenas rutrum varius quam.

Tiny Habit & Field Trips

  • Sed interdum elit lacinia venenatis auctor. Donec risus mauris, vehicula venenatis pretium viverra, imperdiet nec leo.
  • Cras luctus efficitur commodo. Donec mauris leo, consectetur sit amet vestibulum eu, auctor eget mauris.
  • Aenean egestas est et viverra ultricies.
  • Mauris suscipit laoreet sapien, sit amet pretium metus. Sed ac congue lectus.
  • In malesuada fringilla convallis.
  • Maecenas id bibendum lectus.
  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque nisi sapien, fringilla ut libero eu, pulvinar tristique leo.
  • Fusce quis massa vulputate, faucibus sem in, hendrerit lacus.
  • Ut est sem, sollicitudin sed ullamcorper a, iaculis nec massa. Maecenas rutrum varius quam.

Skill Drills

The Flag Game Checklist
  • Talk for 90 seconds while trying to eliminate the use of uh and um.
  • Ask a partner to raise a hand to “flag” any fillers that may slip through.
  • Play this game once a day for 20 days.
  • Use the Flag Game Checklist for daily impromptu questions.

Skill Drills

Fictionary
  • Speaking without fillers, offer a 2–3 sentence definition for a gibberish word.
  • Be sure to speak in complete sentences and pretend that you’re an expert!
  • Find samples of gibberish words on the SoundBites cards in your Toolbox.
Snap Two!
  • Talk for 60 seconds while focusing on pausing.
  • Every time you reach the end of a sentence, snap your fingers twice before continuing with the next sentence.
  • Practice this same behavior while chatting with a friend (but remember to only snap your fingers in your head!).
Elevator Pitch
  • Craft a one-paragraph description of who you are and the vital role you play.
  • Practice your pitch so that you can say it without fillers or hesitation.