speaker-refusing-microphoneI couldn’t stand it…

A while back, I was listening to a recording of myself.  And I was saying what I thought were some — um — pretty dang cool things.

I was sharing high-level marketing and — um — copywriting tips.  The kind of tips I cover here.  And — um — the kind of tips that can totally change your business and the results you get with your marketing.

But I found myself continuously — um — distracted.

Um — because every time I’d pause to think about what I was going to say next — um — I let slip the dreaded filler word.


I listen to a LOT of audio.  Podcasts.  Seminar recordings.  And so on.

And in paying attention to many of these, they’re full of “um” and other filler words that don’t bug me that much.  Not when someone else is saying them.

But in listening to that particular recording, I finally turned on a serious disdain for my own use of “um.”

I hate it!

I cant stand it.

After all, SERIOUS public speakers, teachers, and others who make at least some of their living by speaking are much better off NOT using these fillers!

Can you get away with it?  Sure.  Especially if your content is good.  But it’s better to have good content and NOT have the fillers in there.

Same applies to selling, conversation, or anywhere else you might speak with someone one-on-one.  The less “ums,” “ahs,” and filler words you use, the better you’ll sound.  The better you sound, the easier it is to maintain high credibility.  And the more you maintain high credibility, the easier it will be to make all the success you want come to you.

Yes, there are exceptions.  But I became annoyed with my use of those exceptions to rationalize my own continued use of “ums.”

So that very day, I made a decision…

I decided right then and there to STOP using “um” to fill the spaces in my speech!

Now, this is a lot like the decision to get rich.

Even once you decide, it’s not going to happen instantly.  And even when you’ve mostly succeeded, there’s always a chance of slipping backwards.

So it’s definitely a journey — but I can happily report that over the last couple months I’ve significantly reduced my use of “um” in speech.

In fact, just the other day I was really noticing how little I now use “um” compared to just a few short weeks ago.

And all it took was one simple trick!

If you want to stop using “um,” “ah,” and other filler words — here’s the simplest way to make it happen…

Self-inflicted corporal punishment.


In short, every time you find yourself doing the behavior you want to correct, you give yourself a little painful reminder that you’re not supposed to be doing it.

I got two rubber-bands that fit loosely around my wrist.

I wear them all day, every day.

And whenever I’m talking and say “um,” I snap the rubber bands on my inner wrist.

It stings!

I told my family what I was doing — including my kids — so it wouldn’t look too weird (or at least they’d know why I was doing what I was doing).

In public, I try to do it covertly, so the person I’m speaking with doesn’t notice.

I also snap myself on business calls, and in other contexts.

Whenever I let an “um” slip, I give myself a stinging reminder that I’m not supposed to do it…

For a couple weeks, it barely made an impact…

Almost right away, I’d stop saying “um” for a few moments, immediately after the sting.  But a couple minutes later, when the tingling after-effect of the rubber band’s snap had disappeared, I’d let it slip again.

Ummmmmm — oh shoot.  SNAP!

Then, as time went on, I noticed that I was snapping myself less and less.

Then the other day I realized I hadn’t snapped myself in hours.

And I was noticing as I was speaking that I wasn’t filling in the gaps with “ums” — but rather letting myself pause silently when I needed an extra second to think.

It’s not gone.  But I’ve probably reduced my use of the word “um” by 80-90% within a couple months.  And I plan to keep going, until it’s very, very rare that I say “um.”

Even then, I will have trained myself to be much more conscious and aware of it.  So it will be much less likely to come up, and much more likely to be contained when it does.

Do you say “um” a lot?  Do you have some other distracting bad habit?

This is neither the first nor last bad habit I want to get rid of.  The good thing is that this method doesn’t just have to be used for “ums.”

I knew a guy who cussed a lot, even in inappropriate places.  It was beyond his conscious control.

He used the rubber band method to ditch the curse words in his everyday speech.

We all have our fair share of moderately-bad habits.  Things that we’d probably be better off without, but that aren’t disruptive enough that we’ve quit them already.

They won’t go away on their own.  And they can be hard to reduce or remove through willpower alone.

But if you really want a habit gone, try the rubber band trick.

It may take a bit — especially if it’s as ingrained as “ums” were in my speech.

But if you stick with it, you may be surprised how well it works.

And with that bad habit out of your way, who knows what opportunities you’ll create for yourself?

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr