Lange International

Tips and Insights

from Lange’s Communication Thought Leaders

How filler words keep your message from being heard (or, um, not)

One thing we’ve had on our minds recently at Lange is the how the way you speak changes the way your message is heard. From Seville, Spain, where our founder Jenna Lange is currently living and working, to the comments section of Partner Kirsten Smith’s LinkedIn feed, competing advice and experiences around filler words have challenged us to think deeper about verbal executive presence.

“I recently read a comment on LinkedIn with advice saying not to worry about ‘um’s in sales calls,” Kirsten said. “The writer said this kind of filler word isn’t typically a problem.”

This got us thinking… are filler words really bad? In the video, Jenna shares advice on using filler words influenced by her time in Spain. Her main takeaway? If it’s not excessive and doesn’t distract from your message—don’t sweat it.

“10 years ago, I would’ve said ‘get rid of them, have a pause instead,’ but it’s something that happens naturally when we’re speaking,” Jenna explained. “If you um and uh because you’re trying to hold onto time, you’re trying to hold onto the stage longer than you should. Stop, get to the point, or ask a question back.” 

Be open to hearing feedback and try to understand the impact of your verbal presence on your audience. Then decide whether the feedback you’ve received is critical for you to reach your goals.

Lexie Banks