Been traveling quite a bit.  Always interesting to see other places and experience different things.  Well, for the most part.So I ran across a radio station in the Midwest that had a morning show contest I thought was interesting.  Anyway, usually, I think these things to be absolute drivel, you know, but this one was right up my alley.  So these, um, callers had to speak for 20 seconds on a given topic (I think the topic this particular day is “talk about the things we might find in your refrigerator“) and not use the (non-)word “uh” or “um“.So, anyway, it turns out it’s hard to find, uh, random-person-on-the-street who can do this, uh, without saying “uh“.  They went through several tries of buzzing people off the air before someone was able to complete it, and were I coaching the winner, I’d say they even failed.  You see, they didn’t let loose with an “um” or “uh“, thus winning the prize, but they had enough “and“, “so“, “anyway” words that have the same effect.  So, basically, you see, these words don’t add, like, you know, anything to our message.  Once we clear such words out of our message, it’s amazing how clean and clear it sounds.  It’s, like, simple, uh, when you can, uh, eliminate the words that don’t say uh-anything.Our goal as presenters is to eliminate anything that distracts from our message.  The low-hanging fruit is non-words.  It’s really not as hard as you might think.  I have developed the habit to use almost no ‘um‘s and ‘uh‘s — I find the so/and/anyways harder to control.  All they are is the speaker’s attempt to gather his/her thoughts.  A pause is almost always a more effective way to do that, and it doesn’t pollute the listener’s reception, either.So, anyway, how would one accomplish this?  Simply put, uh, it involves slowing down.  There are easy ways to do this — the best and easiest involves using eye contact to drive speech.  Awareness helps, but at some point a skill to avoid such words must be practiced and utilized to make it happen.  Find a way, enlist a coach, practice.  So, anyway, you should do it.

Eliminate non-words from your, uh, communication.

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