against "um"

there is a terrible epidemic plaguing the english language. it’s running rampant in offices, schools, coffee shops and restaurants. it’s affecting both children and adults. it’s a threat to communication everywhere - and the worst part is - you may not even realize it’s happening… but now you will.

this corrupting influence is the careless use of "um".

think we’re overreacting? let us explain.

the words you choose and the way you speak set expectations for the message you are trying to convey. fillers, like “um”, attack meaning, limiting the impact a message has on your audience. when “um” creeps into speech, informal or formal, it shows a lack of commitment and attention to the words you are using and the message you are communicating. we believe that words are powerful and that the way they are used allow for clear delivery of your message, enabling you to better connect with an audience. each word used must carry meaning to better reflect both the message and the person delivering it.

what’s more, “um” undermines credibility. by definition, “um” is an exclamation used to indicate hesitation. even when a message is well thought out, the use of “um” detracts from any position of authority. “um” can have a negative impact on the perception of the message and the person delivering it, proving particularly detrimental in a professional environment. “um” demonstrates a lack of confidence and makes a speaker appear hesitant in whatever it is that they’re saying. 

considering how present “um” is in everyday conversation, we can’t expect people to quit it cold turkey. but we can try to prevent it from destroying the pause. while seemingly simple, pausing for meaning communicates a level of thought and allows you to speak powerfully and with precision. it demonstrates that you are considering each word carefully, leading to clearer communication and ensuring that your message is understood. in taking the time to pause and choose each word with intention, you’ll convey not only a respect for language but respect for the person you are speaking to, both of which will amplify the meaning of your message.

don’t let “um” rage unchecked, once you truly hear it you will understand just how detrimental it can be. language is a tool that should be used intentionally. we must combat “um” and the breakdown it causes in communication by carefully choosing the words we speak. the more carefully you consider your words, the more confident and authoritative you will sound, and the more coherently you can tell your story.