Why we use filler words like "um" and "uh"
A study found that one in every sixty words people speak is either um or uh. That means you are adding two or three of these 'fillers' per minute.
One idea on why we use fillers is that we can't immediately find the right word to say. But we could just as well stay silent. The real reason then is that going silent won't work.
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You will always experience delays in free-flowing conversation because you won't always have the right words at hand.
In public speaking:
In a conversation, we always have to deal with who has the floor. Cooperative rules of conversation require us to use signals that regulate the flow of dialogue. If you stay silent, the other person may think you finished your turn at talking.
A filler is a signal that accounts for your delay: "Please wait. I'm not done yet. Transmission will soon resume."
Consciously slowing down will give you more time to formulate what you are saying (and your audience more time to process it.) Slowing down will decrease the likelihood of cognitive pressures that lead to delays and, in turn, to ums and uhs.
Slowing down will also make you come across as more authoritative and relaxed.
Most people don't like to hear their own voice, but nothing will squash those verbal ticks quite like listening to yourself speak. Record yourself in a natural conversation, such as a conference call, then replay and listen to yourself speak.
Pay attention to filler words, up talk, monotone, and run-on sentences.
You’ve got a lot to pack into those seven seconds to make your impression a positive one.
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