So, um, identifying and basically eliminating filler words is, like, really feasible, you know? Take these five small, but decisive steps, and your speech will be as clear as mountain spring water.

Step 1: Identifying the “Parasite” Words

Unfortunately, you cannot put a small talk into a test tube and take it to the clinic to test it for “parasites.” Although we all have these “parasites” a.k.a filler words, they always crawl out at the most inappropriate and stressful moments. They’re especially clearly visible with someone else’s eyes. This cannot but make you sad as your whole life you’ve been pretending to be a well-read intellectual à la the London dandy, and then bang! Suddenly you speak like your vocabulary only consists of “um,” “kind of,” and “you know.”

We advise you to identify a diagnosis yourself: just turn on the recorder and tell yourself the plot of the first part of The Lord of the Rings or any other confusing and eventful movie. Your story should be no longer than 15 minutes. Just listen to it, and you’ll see. You can also ask your insensitive acquaintances a question – they certainly will not miss the opportunity to point out your incorrect pronunciation and word stress sprinkled with some annoying filler words.

Step 2: Acceptance and Awareness

All people think and speak at different speeds. It happens that sometimes you come up with the idea to speak up faster than your speech apparatus works. That means that you think more quickly than you speak. This may imply babbling, swallowing word endings, or jamming together words that would not be superfluous at all.

In contrast, people who prepare their speech slowly and carefully tend to use filler words more often. These people need much more time to formulate an idea than to express it. In this case, filler words are a sort of pit stops, a “safe place,” where you can think everything over to finish what you were saying.

Curiously, both well-read smarty pants and average people use filler words in their speech, and it has nothing to do with their intelligence or education.

Step 3: Find and Neutralize It

Why is a professor’s speech utterly different from that of a boy from the neighborhood and seems very cultural even though professors use filler words, too? That is because professors’ filler words are diverse, “thoroughbred,” and have an honors degree. We recommend that you replace your plain filler words with nice linking words.

This shortlist of phrases will definitely come in handy – just remember a couple of them to fill in pauses in conversations beautifully.

Now, let me see

This phrase has no particular meaning, but it will help you buy a few seconds to think about how to continue what you were saying.

Just a moment/Just a second

Use this phrase when you really need time to do something. For instance, to call someone on the phone or when you need to think about what you are planning to say.

How shall I put it?

Usually, this phrase is followed by information that’s not that pleasant for the one who is listening. And by saying, “How shall I put it?” you gain time to formulate a sentence, making it less offensive or unpleasant.

What’s the word for it?

This phrase is used when you forget a specific word. If you still can’t remember the word within a few seconds, you should describe it so that the other person could imagine what is that you’re talking about.

Let me get this right

By using this phrase, you ask the other person for a few seconds to word something correctly. Also, with the help of this phrase, you check it whether you understand the person you’re talking to the right way.

It’s on the tip of my tongue

Use this phrase when trying to remember the name of a book/movie or some person etc.

That’s an interesting question

The truth is that when people say so, in 9 cases out of 10, they don’t think that the subject is actually interesting. Instead, this phrase helps you buy a few seconds to think about the answer to it.

Step 4: Find a Mentor with a Sweet Carrot and a Sturdy Stick

Ask your colleagues or a partner to catch you using filler words that intruded into your polite speech. Since we say these obnoxious words automatically, find ourselves doing this may be quite tricky. But there’s a super-efficient way to monetize this process. For instance, for every bug in your speech, the mentor will receive a certain amount of money. At this point, we hope that your greed will work in your favor, and you’ll quickly speak in pure Shakespearean.