Friday, May 08, 2009

Uh, umm, hmm…

I couldn’t resist taking a break from work to post about this article that I just read on Guila’s website. If you’ll remember, I mentioned Guila Muir in an earlier post because I was doing some work for a couple months ago. Well, now I’m helping her get her new website and blog up and running live and while I was working, I saw this article about disfluencies that I thought some of you might find interesting. Umm’ing and uh’ing actually help people to remember what you say!! In Guila’s opinion, however, public speakers should still strive to remove these disfluencies  (I like that word, heheh.) from their speech because people still find them a bit distracting. I tend to agree with Guila, and not just because she’s paying me, lol, but because in my unprofessional opinion, um’s and uh’s make you sound nervous and unsure about your subject. I hear myself doing it and cringe every time knowing I sound like a dunce. Anyway, below is the article and I will link to it once Guila’s new website is live.

Presentation Skills: Can Dreaded “Ers” and “Ums” Actually be Positive ? by Guila Muir of Guila Muir and Associates

A recent study at Stirling and Edinburgh Universities (U.K.) found that the use of “ers” and “ums” in speech boosted listeners’ retention. These speech boo-boos, called “disfluencies,” actually helped people remember what had been said.

Here’s how it worked: Volunteers listened to a series of sentences, some including verbal blunders and some not. When tested, volunteers remembered more of the sentences with the disfluencies (62% vs. 55%), a statistically significant difference.

What’s going on? Researchers guess that speech disfluencies force the brain to pay attention. Dr Martin Corley, of Edinburgh University, says “It’s like we are saying to ourselves, ‘I’d better pay attention now, because what I thought was going to happen isn’t going to happen!’ ”

Even with this surprising news, most presenters want to clean their speech of disfluencies. And as listeners, we all know how distracting constant “ers” and “ums” can be!

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