Using Umm, Errm and other ‘Filler’ Words
There is a debate going on in the world of presenting about whether the use of “umm”, “errm” “kind of” and “I mean” etc in a presentation is good or bad. Some say that the use of these ‘filler’ sounds or words demonstrates a lack of preparation and sounds unprofessional, while others say that the use of these words help to make the presentation more ‘human’ and natural sounding.
Personally, I feel that as a presenter it is important to connect with your audience, to make your audience feel that you are having a conversation with them rather than lecturing them or talking at them. This means that I am in favour of you using words that you would naturally use when you are having a conversation in English with another person in a more social setting.
Dr Simon Raybould of the TellingPeople blog I feel has hit the nail on the head. In two recent posts. (part one here and part 2 here) Dr Raybould writes about this not really being that important and that in some cases it can help to humanise your presentation. In part two he talks about how you can overcome this problem (if you really want to) but that in trying to overcome this problem you can end up “becoming formalistic and scripted”.
So I say use the filler words, make your presentation more human and less scripted and have a real conversation with your audience. If you practice enough then these will come out naturally, but be careful of over practicing and sounding wooden and boring.
(HT to Dr Simon Raybould for his excellent posts)