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Watch the short video clip to the left. You might chuckle because it's been edited so that all the content has been removed, except for all the filler words such as uh and um. The result is comedic for us and embarrassing for the actors whom we assume are as eloquent off screen as on. We forget that they are given scripts and practice every line. They are directed on set, scenes may be filmed again and minor mistakes are edited out in post production. If you put actors in an uncomfortable situation, they may be at a loss for words as is aptly demonstrated in this short clip. I work with a number of actors and have seen this firsthand. With training, however, they soon become competent and gifted orators. Does this mean that you need acting training in order to be a captivating speaker? Not at all. We have many clients who started out at a great disadvantage and might be considered poor communicators. Many had never presented a speech in front of an audience. Some have come to us with conditions as restrictive as social anxiety disorder. I'm delighted to state that ALL of them are now able to speak with confidence. So far we have a 100% success rate. Of course some seem to accelerate at a more rapid rate but I have always found that these people are willing to put in the time and the effort. We can teach the skills but only YOU can put them into practice. As the Nike tag line goes, JUST DO IT!




Your job this week is to identify your most commonly used filler words. I recently discovered that I use the word "right" a lot. I'm working on weeding this word out. It's ok to use it as long as it's in context and is appropriate. Overuse of any word begins to detract from the message.


  1. Find a device to record your voice. Use your laptop, iPad or phone. Are you ready? 

  2. Press record and then read and answer the question below. Speak for at least 30 seconds. Don't cheat. Only scroll down once you've pressed record.

  3. On a piece of paper write down the following most commonly used words (one per line): uh, um, ah, er, so, "you know", "like", stuff.

  4. Now listen to the recording you've just made and every time you hear one of those place a check next to each of the above words where applicable.

  5. Note any other words that you have used that were not used in context. I have a friend who starts most of her sentences with the word, "basically". She is unaware that she does this. It really dilutes her speech.

  6. Record yourself speaking for at least a minute every day and evaluate your progress. Focus on speaking without using the words you've identified as a problem. Speak slower and with more thought. Pause when you're tempted to say "uh" or "um". 

  7. Track your progress. I promise you that if you do this every single day, you will eventually weed the pesky diluters out of your speech. 

  8. Try to be more conscious of your every day speech and avoid using filler words in your conversations with others. 

  9. Find an accountability partner (preferably someone you see every day) to help you with this process.



Share an experience that made you a stronger or better person. Speak for no less than 30 seconds and no longer than 1 minute. Start now.



The more prepared and relaxed you are, the less likely you are to use filler words. Confidence comes when you know your content and speak from your heart. Don't be afraid of pauses. They are your friends.



If you have joined Club Captivate to improve your speaking skills you have made an important decision. You are willing to start the process. If you read the notes we provide, listen to the audio blog and video clips and put what you learn into practice, you will improve your speaking skills. Don't be impatient. It is a process and it will take time. If you wish to speed up the process, join one of our workshop series or consider one-on-one coaching. If you're not in the Los Angeles area, contact us through this website and we will be happy to discuss options with you to bring training into your neck of the woods or to set you up on Skype.




Go and check out a few Toastmasters clubs in your area and find one where their core membership have experience and speak well. You will only ever be as good as those with whom you hang out. Check out:  a location near you at 


If you're in the Woodland Hills area, please consider visiting our Captivating Toastmasters club -

Become conscious of every word that you utter. Slow down, take measured breaths and think before you speak. Do not be afraid of silence. Pauses are powerful. Train yourself to maintain eye contact with your audience and smile when you pause.  If you look relaxed, they will feel relaxed.


A friend of mine once started a speech with a full ten seconds of silence. She was composed and relaxed. The room was silent when she began her speech and her words had great impact. One way to avoid embarrassment if you hit a blank is to keep a store of great one-liners that you can use if this happens. "Anyone have GPS, I'm lost." If you are open, you will endear yourself to the audience. Remember they want you to succeed. Another technique is to throw it back on them. Ask, "Now let's see how much you have absorbed. What did you get from what I've said so far?" etc. While they answer you have time to think.



Making the most of your words. Redundant words and indirect statements. 

Videos posted with permission Jennifer Lebedev "The English Teacher".

Her style is a little academic but her voice is soothing and the content is useful. I especially liked the way she clarified differences between filler words that serve no purpose and interjections. It's all in the tone. 

Speak and Listen
Want to speak better?
Discomfort leads to growth
Make the right choices
It's not all about you
C is for Captivating

Click on slides to open



LESSON 1 - You are Your Own Brand
Figuring out who you are and what you offer to this world. What makes you unique and how you can use this to your advantage. Improve your skills through objective evaluation.


LESSON 2 - Give People a Reason to Listen

How to source content that matters to others. Understanding your audience so that you can speak directly to their needs.


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