I sat in on a teleconference a few days ago that discussed environmental literacy in the media. A group of young journalists Â want to analyze how people get and how they hear and understand environmental news. Their goal is to improve the role that journalists play in finding the important stories and defining the values and concerns of the readership to bring them personally into the issues. Great. All for it.
But I had a hard time, when the two moderators would come into the conversation to direct the mic focus to one or another of the participating speakers, because one of these young men could not bring fewer than 3 useless figures of speech into every sentence.
I know he is an intelligent and articulate and well-educated young man, and is obviously passionate about what he is trying to do, and his cause is a good one.
But I will confess that, since maybe high school, I have found uhs, and ums, and other filler-sound-pointless words or empty phrases Â completely distract me from what the professor or minister or politician or speaker has to tell me.
I have old course notebook pages filled with hash marks of UHs from one particular prof, always thinking TODAY he’s going to set a Guiness World Record for non-word-packing in a single lecture.
And so I’m debating, in the response feedback we are to fill out for the teleconference, if it would be appropriate to point this conspicuous speech pattern to this young man, for his long-term benefit. I’ve done the same thing with someone in my own son, who, you know, has sort of picked up empty phrases, and sort of peppered his otherwise wise and well targeted speech with these useless bits.
Do I overstep good taste or insult this young man by offering him this suggestion to try to remove these habitual and distracting contentless sounds from his speech so that he’s a better speaker? What would you do? Is this just ME?