Fix the Ums

Businessman speaker with high quality dynamic microphone speaking talking with people on isolated white background. Male testing microphone voice for interview. Motivation life coach in training

We suffered through the latest edition of the Emmys, hoping for anything memorable. No luck. But one irritant spread faster at the awards than the latest COVID variant. If we could have edited together a clip of all the “ums*” spoken at the Emmys, it would be a torturous interrogation device.

But listening to a repetitious loop of “ums” would also be useful for ridding speakers of what linguists call discourse markers, discourse particles, or fillers. They include well, like, you know, right, etc. Fillers are extremely irritating, and if repeated too often, will fixate an audience and ruin a talk.

You can rid your speech of these fillers. Relate where you grew and went to school. Drop in your discourse marker after every other word. Do this until it makes you cringe and you can hear it. Next, replace the marker with a pause. And don’t feel you have to do nonstop commentary without breathing. Now you are um, well, kind of, like, you know, on the way to ridding yourself of one bad habit.

(*) According to Webster’s Dictionary, ums indicate hesitation.

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