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3/9/12

People Who Can't, um... Speak, In, um... Speaking Positions

Part of my job is quarterly training meetings.  All of the Sales & Marketing staff get together for a few days and strategize, do refresher training, and meet with a handful of manufacturers.

In other words, hell week.  10 hours a day in a conference room, watching powerpoint presentations and hearing (over and over) why X is the best in the universe!  But Y is too!  And Z!

The meetings tend to drag on.  One of the last speakers on the last day just sent me over the edge.

He said "Um" a lot.  And I mean a LOT.

At one point, I decided to tally the "um's" during a five minute period.  I got to 22.  This was a 60 minute meeting, which means there were potentially up to 264 "Um's" per hour...

He was pitching a good product, but I didn't learn anything from the meeting.  On my notepad, I had tally marks and the word "um" written down about a dozen times.  This scene from Family Guy kept repeating in my head...


Does this make me a bad person, or would you have done the same?

I'm sorry, but as a listener, I can't get engaged in a conversation like this.  The value of what you're saying just goes down the drain, if all I can hear is "Um...."
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21 witty retorts:

Bozo said...

A seriously bad and terrible person - however I'll keep coming back to your blog because I like it and you.

J.Day said...

I had professors in college that would count the "ums" when we'd practice presentations (and I had a lot of those in 4 years). It was a nervous habit and I had no idea I was doing it about half the time. But I worked on it, and at worst during an actual presentation they would count 2 "ums". If you're in a position that talks a lot, then you need to make sure you don't sound like an idiot by saying "um" "uh" "and" a lot. All he has to do is record a sales pitch and he'll realize how annoying he is.

Just Keepin It Real, Folks! said...

Sounds like the manufacturer of the product needs a new spokesperson ASAP if they want to see a profit. Otherwise, it's gonna tank.

Hey Monkey Butt said...

um and like, those are the ones i can't stand hearing people say A LOT. You're def not a bad person for that one, lol

Workingdan said...

I um..can't um..think of um...anything um...to add to this um...post!

D4 said...

Um, I don't think you're a bad person. Nah.

Pickleope said...

Bad? Hero for not snapping and choking the person who put that person on stage. There are techniques and if you're going to address an already weary group, study up.

Red said...

Someone didn't take a "public speaking" class. A pause is better than filling the space with an "um". I don't know when it clicked for me, but I've managed to stop doing it. If I catch one "um" escape my mouth, it's usually a solo "um".

I was on a morning news magazine plugging a play I was in, with the director, and when we were done he seemed impressed by how well I can speak on TV. Huh? You cast me in your play, right? You know I can speak well. Guess he thought it was rare.

Crack You Whip said...

Oh, I can't stand it when people do that, but am impressed with your counting them. I have counted um's before, but your numbers win by a landslide!

ISRAEL CARRASCO said...

I hate that. Athletes are especially prone to this

Ellen Lloyd said...

Ummmmmm, can't say it bothers me overly, nope! If it's really bad I just cringe and feel sorry for the person. Much worse is the rampant abuse of "like." Use it more than twice in one sentence and I'll tune you out!

Thank, Q said...

As an amateur radio show host, I will admit that sometimes "um" is all you can muster. There's this second of thought that we can't seem to process information and it results in an "um" to break the silence. Now, some are worse than others, but it takes realizing it in or to correct it. You have to be mindful of it and pay attention to prevent it. Having said that, I can't stand to hear it in every sentence. I probably would have started counting, too, because that would be so much more interesting than whatever the speaker was trying to say.

Zyu said...

I think he never meant to do it on purpose. When you're nervous you'll tend to do something subconsciously and you won't even notice it until someone points it out.

Out of Barnes said...

I think this is common in people with very little speaking experience. It doesn't matter how prepared they are or how intelligent they may be, but if they are the least bit nervous they tend to fill the pauses with um, ah, and like. It happens to me all the time so I tend to ignore it in other people.

Baur said...

That guy looks like a bawss!

Al Penwasser said...

Oh, um, no, this, um, doesn't make you, um, a bad person. Um...uh...because I've, um, done it, um, myself.

Part of what I'm going to do for the A-Z Challenge is count how many times Paula Dean says "Y'all" on her "Eatin' Grits With Paula" (or some other such cracker title) Food Network show.
Woman drives me crazy.

StephanieC said...

One of my college teachers would say "as it were" and another phrase.

He hit 50 easily in an hour.

I also hate "what have you".

Youngman Brown said...

I had a teacher who said "ok" all the time while he was talking.

Sometimes it was "Ok?" in the form of a question, and other times it was just a filler "ok" when he should have mercifully added a pause to his speech.

We did a similar count, but I don't remember if it was more or less than 22. He said "ok" at least once every sentence usually, though.

Melanie said...

I have to agree with you...I actually had a teacher in high school that drilled it into our heads how stupid we sounded when we constantly said um.

Smart Ass Sara said...

This is, hands down, my biggest pet peeve with anyone. If you can't speak intelligently without adding filler words- sit the fuck down and shut the hell up. I had a speech teacher once who slammed a yard stick on the table every time a person added filler words. One kid cried. As he should have, that loser.

Sweety Darlin said...

I work with a lot of pageant girls, and they have to go through interviews and do a lot of public speaking. We always talk to them about um not um using the um word um. because um it makes um you sound like um you don't um really know um what your talking about. If you um want to um be a public speaker. Um people need to um think you are excited um and knowledgeable about um your platform.

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