How to Stop Saying Um

The word um is said to be one of the most annoying words in English, but it is an important part of language. It emphasizes pauses and silence when you’re not sure how to say something or don’t know what kind of response would work best for a question. What other ways can we use our brains’ natural ability to pause?

The “how to stop saying um reddit” is a question that has been asked over and over again. If you want to stop saying “um,” you will need to find the right words for yourself.

Vintage man giving presentation in office meeting.

Being well-spoken is a work that should not be disregarded in the quest to become a better man. The way you talk has a significant impact on the impression you create on people, and consequently on your ability to influence them. People will make assumptions about your education, IQ, history, and personality based only on the tone of your voice and the words you choose to communicate.

Being well-spoken entails a variety of characteristics:

  • constructing well-structured phrases
  • Being able to speak clearly
  • Having a vast and diversified vocabulary is advantageous.
  • Clearly expressing yourself (not mumbling)
  • Maintaining a consistent speed, tone, and intonation (not too loud, fast, or monotone)
  • Being fluent means that words flow naturally to you.
  • Being able to easily explain things
  • Being honest and sincere in what you say
  • Being kind and considerate of the listener’s wants
  • Filler and empty phrases are used sparingly.

We’ll ultimately cover all of these characteristics, but today we’ll focus on the final one on the list: eliminating filler words from your speech, especially ums and uhs.


What exactly is filler? Filler is empty, unnecessary jargon that adds padding to your phrases without providing meaning. It’s like empty calories — they’re there, but they don’t provide nourishment. Words and phrases like “I mean,” “kind of,” “ya know?” “well,” and, of course, “like” are examples of fillers.

The most well-known fillers, however, are “uh” and “um,” which attract the greatest attention and scorn. Um’s and uh’s are seen by many as “verbal viruses” that clog the language of the illiterate and uneducated. Many public speaking professionals advise striving to remove any unnecessary padding from your speech.

The fact is that practically everyone utilizes “full pauses” in their speech; if you don’t, it’s because speakers (and, in many circumstances, listeners) have a hard time hearing them. However, if you were taped throughout the day, you’d notice how often you use ums and uhs in your interactions. They’re a pretty natural aspect of human communication, and they’ve probably been present from the beginning (albeit they differ by language – for example, “ah” in Spanish). People prefer to filter out fillers in polite conversation if they aren’t excessive or crowded together, so long as they aren’t excessive or clustered together. Fillers, contrary to common opinion, do not hinder understanding; in fact, they may help comprehension by alerting to the audience that you have misspoken and are going to correct what you just said or that they should pay attention to what you say next.

This isn’t to imply you can’t control your ums and uhs or that you should use them carelessly. Rather, the problem isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Depending on your audience and purpose, the use of ums and uhs is permissible on a sliding scale. The sensitivity of a listener to a speaker’s ums and uhs is dependent on the speaker’s social function, according to research. People expect individuals providing prepared statements, appearing on television, or in positions of power to use very little filler. If the play-by-play announcer for a basketball game, for example, uttered “uh” before each line, you’d notice right away. “Um, Harden grabs the ball,” says the announcer. He takes another shot and makes another three-pointer. His beard, well, is incredible.” (Thunder! Thunder!) This is also why President Obama’s habit of peppering his spontaneous statements with a lot of uhhh’s and ummm’s is mocked on late night programs.


Too much use of uh and um detracts from the forcefulness and expressiveness of your statements. While fillers aren’t as important while speaking with friends, when meeting someone for the first time, and during job interviews, business presentations, formal speeches, and the like, you should avoid them as much as possible. If you’re having trouble controlling your ummm-ing, keep reading to find out why we all “um” and “uh” and what we can do to change our habits and become better speakers.

Why Do We Use the Word “Um”?

While it is widely assumed that um’s and uh’s are caused by anxiety, studies have found no direct link between this type of filler and anxiety (other “disfluencies,” such as repeated words, the repetition of a single syllable or sound, omitting a word or part of a word, or a slip of the tongue, are, however, linked to a speaker’s anxiety level). When speaking with a stranger, for example, you are no more likely to utilize fillers than when speaking with your spouse.

The causes behind our uh’s and um’s are really a lot more complicated (not to mention interesting). Here are some of the ideas that have been proposed based on research:

The speaker is “in danger” if he or she uses ums and uhs. The most common understanding of the purpose of filler is that it is either an involuntary symptom or a deliberate signal (linguists disagree) that the speaker gives to indicate to his listeners that he is “in trouble” – he needs a moment to think about what to say next or to search his memory for something. It informs the audience that there will be a delay. The “uh’s” indicate a shorter wait, whereas the “um’s” indicate a longer delay.

Ums and uhs occur when you are attempting to think and talk at the same time. This is why they happen more often at the start of a phrase or during transitions to a new subject than at the conclusion or in the midst of one; your brain is idle between planning and executing what to say next.

Ums and uhs serve as placeholders, indicating that you will continue speaking. You’re in a pickle when you can’t think of what to say next; you need a time to think about it, yet social norms dictate that a pause might make you seem lost or allow someone else to step in and start talking. “I’m still in charge – don’t interrupt me,” you might inform your listeners by saying “hmm.”

One argument is that males are more confident in holding the floor than women, thus they use more fillers like um and uh.

Uh’s might be a cry for assistance. Ums and uhs are not interchangeable. Uh’s are used more often to ask aid from others, in addition to the former suggesting a lengthier wait in a person’s speaking. They let the audience know that they may step in and answer the question.


Harry: Jack was meant to, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh,

Steven, Mike. He was meant to send Steven an email.

Harry: I appreciate it.

Umms and uhs suggest that we are unsure of what we are going to say. When given a question, folks who aren’t sure whether they have the appropriate answer use more filler before replying (and are in fact more likely to get the answer wrong). People, on the other hand, use less filler before presenting an answer they are certain is accurate (and one that is indeed more likely to be correct).

When people genuinely know the answer but can’t call it to the fronts of their minds and the tips of their tongues, they utilize additional fillers before a non-response like “I don’t know.”

Ums and uhs imply that you’re looking for a certain term. The more concerned someone is with finding the correct words, the more likely they are to hmmmm, which is why, although excessive ummming has been linked to a lack of intellect, it is also linked to having a vast vocabulary. The intellectual guy has a lot of words to chose from, so he gets caught up in picking the perfect one to describe himself; “uh” is the sound of his decision-making process.

When discussing an abstract subject, uh’s and um’s are more typical. During lectures, humanities instructors utter “uh” more than hard sciences professors, despite the fact that they utilize filler at the same rate outside the classroom (4.76 times per hundred words compared to 1.47 times per hundred). Professors of the humanities, according to researchers, have a larger, more abstract subject matter to discuss, which gives them more possibilities for how to communicate themselves; there are more ways to explain Rembrandt’s artwork than a physics formula. Your ummm-ing will increase while you’re considering complicated possibilities for expressing your views.

When speaking, how can you reduce the number of ums and uhs?

While it’s not essential, or even ideal, to remove all ums from regular discussions (unless they’re excessive or clustered), you’ll want to keep them to a minimum in more formal contexts when the stakes and expectations are greater and your hemming and hawing might be distracting. Too many um’s and uh’s might bother your listeners since you’re effectively thinking out loud, and people like to listen to someone rather than think about what they’re hearing. People will become lost in your speech if you keep delaying them, and they will say to themselves, “Come out with it now!” They may also damage your credibility with the audience by making it look that you didn’t respect them enough to thoroughly prepare and instead chose to wing it, or that you’re not confident in what you’re saying and don’t know your topic inside and out. Finally, a lot of um’s might indicate dishonesty, giving the impression that you’re buying time to come up with an explanation or alibi. Overall, this is not the kind of impression you want to leave.


Fillers are used anywhere from 1.2 times per thousand words to 88 times per thousand words throughout the population. Here are some pointers on how to be the man on the bottom end of the scale:

Distract yourself as little as possible. Remember how an uh might signify the point between you’re preparing what you’re going to say and actually saying it? Anything that raises your cognitive load when speaking necessitates more pauses since you’re not only attempting to think and talk at the same time, but you’re also distracted/emotional/working on another activity. You’ll use less fillers if you can focus on simply speaking.

Keep your hands out of your pockets. According to studies, when your arms and hands are restricted, you use more filler since you can’t gesticulate and so are less certain that your message is getting conveyed.

Make a thorough preparation. Extensive preparation will help you avoid using filler while making a speech or presentation that can be prepared ahead of time. If the knowledge you want to transmit is still fresh in your thoughts, you won’t need a full pause to recollect it. Here are a few things that will be very useful:

  • Fillers are more likely to be used when there are fewer restrictions on what you may talk about. So, narrow down your subject, then narrow it down some more.
  • Pay close attention to the transitions you’ll make. Because the activity adds to your cognitive load, transitioning from one subject to another in a speech is a perilous period for the development of um’s. Plan out how you’ll transition from one subject to the next, and write these transitions down on an index card that you may refer to throughout your speech.

Make up a tale. When you’re narrating a narrative, the ums and uhs naturally fade away. Furthermore, tales are among the most powerful and memorable rhetorical techniques available.

If possible, have a face-to-face conversation. When you’re on the phone, you’re more likely to utilize fillers. Because you don’t have the benefit of body language and facial emotions, you have a harder time finding the perfect words to describe yourself.

Relax and try to be less self-conscious. Um-ers describe themselves as “unusually self-conscious” and “prone to worry quite a bit about probable calamities,” thus they talk more slowly, carefully arranging and constructing what they will say. Instead of focusing on what others are thinking about you (and this tip applies to a variety of situations), concentrate on completely immersing yourself in what you’re doing. Instead of halting, keep moving forward, speaking a bit quicker than usual and allowing your phrases to flow together. You’ll use the incorrect word more often and have to repeat your sentences more frequently, but your speech will be more fluid, engaging, and forward-moving stylistically.


Researchers discovered that after 19 drinks, the typical individual stops speaking “um” and “uh,” which might help you relax. They also cease mentioning a lot of other terms that are understandable.

Make your sentences brief and uncomplicated. The longer a sentence is, the more likely it is to become filler. Shorter sentences can help you seem crisper, more authoritative, confident, and male. To make your phrases short and straightforward, use the following formula:

  • Simple declarative statements should be used more often. Subject. Predicate. Period. Get rid of the superfluous clauses and conjunctions and get to the point. “There isn’t any notion or idea that can’t be represented in a very basic declarative statement, or in a sequence of quite simple declarative words,” E.B. White once said.
  • “Sort of,” “like,” “ya know,” “okay,” “right,” “so,” “so,” “things like that,” “kind of,” and “I mean” are examples of fillers. Leave it out if it has no bearing on the meaning of the statement.
  • Use fewer hedging words and phrases like “hopefully,” “probably,” “perhaps,” “quite,” “relatively,” “reasonably,” and “fairly,” and avoid sentences like “I was just thinking…” “I’m not sure, but…”

When someone is frightened of being incorrect and/or wants to walk softly, hedge words and fillers are often employed to weaken and soften a phrase. They may be handy when you’re attempting to be diplomatic (especially in emails when you just have words to communicate meaning), but most of the time it’s best to be forceful and put your concept out there openly.

Now for some advice on what not to do.

You may have heard that replacing your um’s and uh’s with a quiet pause is the best method to eliminate them. This is public speaking orthodoxy, and it can be found in almost every public speaking book. On the surface, it seems to make sense. Isn’t it true that a quiet pause seems dignified and noble while an um sounds unsure?

As it turns out, this is incorrect.

In a survey of college students, participants were first questioned about their impressions of persons who regularly use the words “um” and “uh.” The students assessed ummm-ers as “uncomfortable, inarticulate, boring, ill-prepared, apprehensive, disfluent, ugly, monotonous, unsophisticated, and lacking in confidence,” which is not unexpected given the societal predisposition against ummm-ing. Ouch!

The students were then given three different edits of a tape of a man’s call-in comments on a radio broadcast to listen to. The man’s um’s were left in one version. The man’s ums were substituted with quiet pauses in another. The pauses were erased entirely in the third version, allowing the man’s sentences to flow together.

What’s the end result? The version with no pauses received the highest rating. The version with silent pauses, on the other hand, was not rated any higher in terms of quality than the one with um’s; the silent pauses had no effect on people’s perceptions of the speaker’s eloquence. The guy in the version with the quiet pauses was actually evaluated as having greater anxiety than the man who um-ed.


Bottom line: Reducing unintentional pauses (a intended dramatic pause may be an excellent rhetorical tactic) will help you speak more clearly. But don’t worry about attempting to replace your um’s with quiet pauses; it won’t enhance your speaking, and the tension from the effort can make you seem worse than just relaxing and allowing a few um’s to slip in.

Take heart, ye um-ers: One last piece of advice

Even if none of the ummm-reducing tactics discussed above are able to help you keep your ummm-ing under control, there is still something you can do to come across as well-spoken to others: focus on making the substance of what you say great at all times.

Before listening to the recordings, the students were divided into three groups in the research mentioned above. One group was directed to concentrate only on the recording’s content. Another was advised to concentrate only on the style. And the third was left in the dark (the control).

Those who concentrated on the manner of the man’s speech noticed the um’s, whereas those who focused on the substance mainly filtered them out while listening to the audio with the um’s intact.

Now we’ve reached the root of the ad hominem attack against um-laden speech. If you find yourself noticing um’s when someone talks, it’s likely that you’re concentrating on the speaker’s manner rather than his topic, and that you’re doing so because the material isn’t very intriguing or deserving of your attention. “Ums will not be linked with bad speaking, but highlighting ums will be,” the study’s author concluded. Ums are produced by almost every speaker, but skilled communicators may successfully mask their hesitancies by focusing on topic rather than style.”



Effects of Age, Relationship, Topic, Role, and Gender on Disfluency Rates in Conversation

Is It Harmful to Say Um?

Using Uh and Um in Natural Conversation

Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders: What Do They Mean?

It’s All About How You Say It: Become Articulate, Well-Spoken, and Clear





The “How to Stop Saying Um in Videos” is a guide on how to stop saying um. The steps are easy and simple, as well as the best way to avoid repeating yourself. Reference: how to stop saying um in videos.

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