Ah, um…um, well ah, you know, you know… here are my thoughts.

Filler words

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!”


Want to make your speech more memorable? Learn to incorporate the art of cadence into your work.


According to Webster’s online dictionary, cadence is defined as “the way a person’s voice changes by gently rising and falling while he or she is speaking.”

As a speaker, if you can incorporate (and maybe even try to master) the use of cadence into your speech delivery, by varying your vocal inflection – up or down – to pronounce or call attention to a word or group of words in a sentence to stress their meaning, you will begin to see how well this technique works to make your speech more memorable.

Can you put a name with a speech?

“Free at last, Free at last, God almighty we are free at last.”

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

See what I mean. You probably got both of those right. You know why, because these orators were masters of incorporating eloquent pitches of cadence into their speeches.

By using the power of cadence, such as in Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963, “I Have a Dream” speech, or in President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration address, one can see how both of these men mastered their ability to use different vocal inflections to set a tone for how they wanted their words to be remembered, after all, these two works are some of the most memorable speeches of all time by American orators.

From time to time, I actually read along with speeches like these. This makes me learn how to slow down more and talk from a normal voice. Take a moment and listen to the top 100 speeches of all time at this link: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/top100speechesall.html

Well, here is one proven way to have the crowd in your hand…Learn to apply the use of cadence into your speech delivery, and you, too, can potentially make your speeches more memorable.

Keep on Speaking!