One of the roles in a Toastmaster meeting is the Ah-Counter. The Ah-Counter’s job is to note how many times a word or sound is used as a verbal crutch during a meeting. These words maybe inappropriate interjections, such as; you know, and, but, like and so. In addition the speakers may use sounds, such as; ah, um or Ur. The Ah-Counter will record words that are repeat fillers, such as; “I, I” or “You know, you know”. If you as a speaker listen carefully, you will be amazed how times people in everyday life, use these crutches. If you listen to speakers, both inexperience as well as some experienced ones, you will hear how many times these mistakes are made. To be judged as an exceptional speaker, your use of these crutch words or sounds must be kept to a bare minimum.
In order to minimize your use of these words or sounds it would be helpful if you adopt several ideas.
First, increasing your listening skills is an important habit to acquire. If you listen more carefully to other people use these filler words or sounds, you will become more self-conscious as to your own use. The better you listen, the better you can curtail your use.
Secondly, this leads us to the next action. As you begin to notice your pattern of words and sounds, you will have to mentally begin to shift gears when you start to say these crutch words or sounds. At first it will be somewhat uncomfortable to stop talking and then mentally insert a pause before you begin speaking again. The good news is that even though you may think this is noticeable to others listening, in reality it is not noticed. Also this phenomenon is short lived. As you gain experience and expertise you will notice that that you do not use crutch words or sounds in any way.
The only problem is that you will begin to go crazy when you listen to other speakers use filler words. But as they say; “Better them than you!”