If you feel like your audio is getting clogged up with too many filler words, there are a few techniques that you can try to make your show sound more polished. All your "likes" and "you knows" are likely to be verbal tics that you don’t hear in your daily conversation but become super obvious when you play your audio back. As with all habits, you can break this one, but you will have to put the work in and be persistent.
Often, we use filler words to give us a moment to decide what we’re going to say next or to organize our thoughts. If you take some time to plan your show out in detail and ensure that you know where you’re going with a thought or interview question, you’ll naturally use those fillers less. You don’t need to script the whole show, but it can be helpful to have an outline or checklist of topics you need to cover.
Taking a pause and a breath is a great way to slow down without resorting to filler words. A slower pace can give a sense of calmness and knowledge, and makes it sound as if you’re in control.
If both the host and the guest are peppering the conversation with filler words, it’s extremely off-putting for the audience. It makes your show sound amateurish and also gets in the way of all that amazing content your guest has to share. If you’re using filler words to organize your thoughts, signal to your guest that your thought isn’t quite finished. Maintaining good eye contact with your guest helps build a connection, can make the interview more comfortable, and help it flow smoothly.
You can’t control how your guests speak, but you can help them by providing a prep sheet containing a reminder to try not to use filler words, and by putting in a little work beforehand to build a rapport so that your conversation is fluid.
Once you’re aware of the filler words that you use and you have put some of the previous strategies in place, make a point of listening back to your show. If you can still hear yourself umming and ahhing, don’t be too disheartened. You’ll have to put the work in to get rid of your pet filler phrases, but as long as you’re aware of them, they are likely to reduce over time.
At the end of the day, you can pay your podcast editor to reduce your fillers, but it’s always going to be more expensive than just training yourself not to use them in the first place. Plus, you’ll sound better and more polished in everyday life.