For those of us that want to come across as knowledgeable and clear, the use of non-words such as “ah, um, you know, like” (add your own to the list) will in fact come across as groping for content or lacking content.
In most cases, the person using non-words is unaware that he or she is even using these “pauses with garbage in them“.
In fact, we are subconsciously trying to “buy time” by using these words that take less than a second. That is not much time.
The alternative is to pause to give your listeners time to think and digest your point. A good pause can be three seconds. This gives your listener time to digest your point and gives you time to think out your next point.
When you pause, you are saying to your listener “I know you are intelligent so let me be quiet and give you time to think!”
The result is that you are both winners!
MAKING IT BETTER NEXT TIME
When you hear a non-word, simply commit yourself to taking out the next one with a pause. Remember, your goal is not to eliminate non-words but to simply reduce them to a point where they are not a distraction for your listener and do not take away from your projection of knowledgeable and clear.
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