As a sales trainer and coach, I’m often brought in by businesses to help sales and non-sales people improve their telephone manner, sales pitch and business fit presentations. One of the most common problems I see are inserting innocent-seeming filler words into conversation.
A filler word is an apparently meaningless word, phrase, or sound that marks a pause or hesitation in speech. Also, known as a pause filler or hesitation form. Using a filler word here and there isn’t wrong, but it’s their repetitive use that really kills a person’s credibility.
The most common filler words and phrases that I have encountered in my time are:
- Kind of, sort of and kinda, these phrases take the conviction right out of an elevator pitch. For example, ‘so what we sort of do is offer a kind of bespoke solution’. Now, your business offers something that ‘is’ or ‘isn’t’! Make sure your delivery is clear, relevant, concise and actioned.
- Obviously is used over and over in work and everyday life. If I’m a sales person talking you for the first time and explaining a product or solution you know nothing about then it’s certainly not obvious.
- You Know goes hand in hand with Obviously where you’re implying that the person already understands what you’re talking about. durhamlane sales Mantra No.7 is ‘Estimate then validate, never assume’ so never assume what that person knows or doesn’t know.
- The reason for my call (repeated) is something I encounter when telephone coaching and it’s used by the salesperson to almost keep track of where they are or to restart their pitch over. If you have to keep telling them the reason for your call then you haven’t explained it properly the first time.
- Erm is you thinking out loud and vocalising until you work out what to say next and is often the first response from people when they’ve been asked a question. Using silence at these moments is powerful as it gives you time to think about your response and keeps you firmly in control of the conversation.
- Basically (repeated) again pretty much implies that they should already know this but is also the salesperson simplifying their message which should already be simple and clear.
Such meaningless phrases distract the listener from focusing solely on the particular message you want to get across and in the world of business you do only get one chance to make a great first impression.
As customer-facing professionals we need to be more mindful of how we’re perceived and understand how we can become the best version of ourselves and the best representation of the company we work for. Painting a vision, outlining value propositions and delivering the compelling message can all be done through the power of speech, so it’s extremely important we don’t dilute it with filler words.
So how do you go about removing filler words? Well, it’s easy… I want yourself and everyone on your team to go away and recognise or discuss their filler words and have some fun with trying to eliminate them and the more you try to take them out, the easier the transition will be.
If you feel you can use more practice and coaching to refine your presentation skills, then don't hesitate to get in touch with me:
0191 481 3800
...and check out our masterclass on How To: Present with Confidence