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Ya Know? No, I don’t.

I have recently gotten into listening to podcasts on my commute to the office every day.  I have always been a fan of digital books and they have been great for my education on wheels, as I like to call it.  However, I have been addicted to several podcasts over the past month or so.  Some of my favorites are Chris Ducker’s Virtual Business Lifestyle, Natalie Sisson’s Suitcase Entrepreneur, and Dan Andrews’ Lifestyle Business Podcast.

I have a request for everyone who speaks on the radio, on the web, on podcasts, and anywhere else where people tune in:  STOP USING FILLER WORDS AND PHRASES!  Just stop.  It’s enough already.  You don’t use filler words when you write, so don’t use them when you speak.

What exactly am I talking about?  Words and phrases such as these:

 

ya know
I mean
sort of
kind of
as well
like
um
uh

These words and phrases are all overused, usually useless, and most of all ridiculously distracting!  I have turned off podcasts and radio shows because of the overuse of these words.  I’m talking about top-notch, A-List podcasters, entrepreneurs, business people, politicians, experienced radio personalities all killing their content with this garbage.

These words are nothing but verbal placeholders for mental blocks.  They dilute whatever the person is saying, they soften the impact of key points, they make me take you less seriously when I listen to you!

If you are an offender, or are now worrying that you may be an offender, here are some quick tips to test yourself.  Trust me, I’m far from perfect.  I don’t podcast yet, but will begin within a few months.  I’m sure I will slip up at times, ya know?  But I will at least be AWARE of myself.  Awareness is the key, just like it is the key for most aspects of life.  Try these and see if you catch yourself:

  • Listen to a recording of your own podcast or interview.  Better yet, have a trusted friend listen to a recording.  Write down every single occurrence of these words and tally them up.
  • Look at a written transcript of one of your podcasts or interviews.  You wouldn’t post this text on your blog or website like this, would you?
  • Attend a local Toastmasters meeting.  I’ve only been to one Toastmasters meeting in my life, but I learned one of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned in that one hour.  Every time someone got on stage to speak at that meeting, a person in the audience was designated as the “um counter”.  This person’s job was to tally up how many times the speaker said “um,” “ya know,” “like,” and all of the other culprits.  The result?  Every single speaker (myself included) was stunned at their total.  Since that day, I have been diligent every time I speak to limit these words as much as I can.
  • Read Strunk’s The Elements of Style.  The original and timeless book on clear, succinct writing.  I read it at least annually.  It will immediately change the way you communicate.  The best $4 you’ll ever spend.

Do yourself (and us!) a favor a try this out and see how you do.  If everyone does this, we can all sound a little more educated, refined, and we can communicate more effectively.

Just curious, am I nit-picking here or do other people share my frustration?

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