Monday, December 27, 2010

Verbal Tics: Even a Couple of Utterances of “Basically”/ “Essentially” in Quick Succession Can Muddy a Communication and the Speaker’s Image

When talking about filler words and other verbal tics and how they can eviscerate an otherwise well crafted presentation (a subtopic in my recent presentations on “Simple Verbal and Nonverbal Skills for Creating a Highly Favorable First Impression” at PMI Global Congress North America 2010 and at the Minnesota Government IT Symposium), I always share with my audiences some real-life examples to buttress my points. I also name names--not to denigrate anyone but because doing so endows my ideas and admonitions with credibility and helps establish that filler words and other disfluencies can get the better of even highly trained speakers and broadcast professionals, if they lower their guard.

Take a listen and see for yourself how even a couple of uses of "basically"/"essentially" and the like, when uttered in quick succession, can render a communication inelegant. The link is to a segment from a recent edition (Dec. 22) of “Marketplace Morning Report” --one of my favorite radio programs. You will hear co-host Stacey Vanek Smith utter the following as she throws her first question to guest David Lazarus of the LA Times on the subject of Christmas shopping: “Retail sales have been pretty good this season so far. It’s strange, though, that we seem to be spending again, given that unemployment is basically worse and personal income is flat. Why, since the economy’s basically where it was last year, is consumer spending up so much this season?”

For my thoughts on (i) how verbal tics can seriously dilute the impact of a presentation or other important communication (my research indicates that as much as 40% to 60% of an audience can become distracted and lose their focus on the speaker’s message!), and (ii) how to eliminate such disfluencies from your “system,” see posts of June 28 and Sept. 29.

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