8 Filler Words To Never Use In A Meeting

Jānis Lanka
3 min readDec 6, 2018

I recently sat in a company meeting composed of people from various backgrounds, age, education, etc. One younger participant kept repeating something that just kept distracting me, possibly annoying me. I ended up spending my time judging how they were speaking and words they were using, while ignoring what they were actually saying. I found that my distraction was partly due to the use of words that did not add any value to what they were saying. In fact, omitting those words would have made their delivery so much stronger. The trigger phrase was “I think” which was used almost like a punctuation mark, comma, and sentence starter. So, inspired by a very distracting presentation, I decided to spend my next few meetings and gather words and/or phrases that should be eliminated from your speech if you care to be taken seriously:

I Think

If the words come out of your mouth, they mostly are what you think…this is a moot statement.

You Know

A punctuation mark that doesn’t add anything to the conversation.

Actually

Even when you feel like someone needs to be corrected, it makes you sound like you think others are dumb, never a good thing.

I Feel Like

In a world where we try to validate everyone’s feelings, “I feel like…” makes it both hard to argue with one’s feelings, and makes you sound unsure.

Basically

It’s a bit of a power trip for some people to use this in their favor.

Interesting

When did this mean anything good when someone asked you how you liked a certain food, person, or movie?

I Guess

Never show such a weakness of your mind, it makes you sound unsure and thus people are not totally sold on what you’re saying.

F#ck

I’ve spent a lot of time in the startup and creative agency world to see this adopted as a punctuation mark, even in presentations with clients. While it does slightly put a stronger emphasis on what you’re saying, it also slightly cheapens your delivery and persona.

We (at least in English) have too many ‘filler words’ that sneak up during presentation or in meetings. Avoid the urge to keep talking, and learn to speak with pauses instead of injecting fillers words. As a result, I guarantee you will sound stronger, your delivery will have more punch, your audience will be less distracted, and ultimately you will impact and impress those who are listening to you.

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Jānis Lanka

Building a better internet, one digital brick at a time.