Are you using too many presentation fillers when presenting?
Have you ever given a presentation and started using words like ‘umm’, ‘erm’, ‘well’, ‘I’m not sure’, ‘maybe’, ‘how can I put this’, etc. because you didn’t know what to say or how to answer someone’s question? Have you thought about the effect this has on your listeners? You want your listener to think that you know your topic very well, that you are well-prepared and that your English language skills are very good. Unfortunately, words and phrases like the ones above (which are called fillers) can leave your listener asking themselves why they should listen to you if you don’t really have anything important to say. Even worse, your audience might start focusing on these words instead of the topic of your presentation. That’s why it is important to know how to act when giving a presentation. Here are some tips for you to remember so your audience doesn’t get distracted by your words instead of hearing and remembering your intended message.
4 Tips to help decrease presentation fillers
1. Know your material. This includes your slides, but also the English words you use on them, other jargon (or specific language) which is important to explain your product or strategy as well as verbs to make your presentation active. Using all of these correctly will reduce the need to use fillers because you are knowledgeable about your subject.
2. Anticipate questions. Think about possible questions the audience might ask and the answers you might give before the day of the presentation. You might think this is a waste of time, but if you can anticipate the ideas and the vocabulary you might need in advance, you won’t need to use a filler phrase to gain time.
3. Practice your presentation in advance. While you might not need to memorize the presentation, you should go through it at least once before giving the presentation, (the more often, the better, however). Practicing the presentation means that you have said what you want to say out loud, that you have thought about your introduction and conclusion and that you have practiced using the visual aids, (slides, props, flipchart etc.) while speaking. This is not always as easy as it looks, especially while doing everything in another language! (For those of you who have a Target Incorporate Trainer in your company, you can ask them to help you with this).
4. Be comfortable with silence. Perhaps this sounds silly to you, but some people use fillers simply because they don’t like silence. In today’s world of constant sounds, it is an easy trap to fall into. This doesn’t mean, however, that saying something without content is better for your audience than saying nothing at all. Everyone, including your audience, needs a chance to think and organize their thoughts before responding to or asking a question. Allow them to do this without interruptions!
Finally, some words of advice. Don’t worry if you still use presentation fillers occasionally. Even native speakers sometimes use them. What’s most important is not to overuse them. Let us know if you have any comments below and good luck on your next presentation! Also, check out our seminar on Presenting with IMPACT to get better results with your presentations.