Speaking Test Strategies 7 Eliminating non-word sounds

woman holding her hand over her mouth
Say more by saying less

In many speaking tests, speakers are penalized for saying non-word sounds, such as "um" or "uh". Eliminating these sounds is also one of the quickest ways to sound more sophisticated in presentations, meetings, and even everyday life. 

  1. What impression do these sounds give when you speak?
  2. What other effects do these sounds have on the listener?
Warm Up: 

Answer this tough question, and focus on not saying any non-word sounds. Your instructor will be strict about this.


There are a few ways to deal with this issue:

  1. The first and most obvious strategy is to say nothing. But that doesn't mean allowing long, awkward pauses. We will work on pausing effectively. Discuss this with your instructor. 


  1. If you need a little longer to think, then use fillers, like "Let me see..." or "That's a good question", as well as any other filler phrases that show you are thinking.

Now let's practice some more questions. Focus on avoiding non-word sounds.