One of my tasks this week was to record a video tutorial for coworkers and then edit it. In the only take I spoke for twenty minutes - without a script or any notes, by the way - and in that time only said “um” once and used no other filler noises or sounds. This is pretty typical for me - when I don’t know what to say, I say nothing. I’m not sure (yet, poll coming) listeners think, but it sure makes editing easier!
On the other hand, I know people who can’t complete a full sentence without a filler sound um/ah/uh/er or throwing in meaningless words and/or even phrases while they try to think, like “well”, “so”, “so yeah,” “you know,” “right!”, “eh,” “it’s like,” “what I’m trying to say,” “the key thing is” and “the thing of it is.”
Ums and Ahs driving me batty, which is why I roll my eyes hard enough to sprain them when people talk about so-and-so being a great public speaker but their speech is just filled with these nonsense sounds. I feel it makes the person sound less intelligent than they are.
A few chronic ummers have defensively said that people find silence “disconcerting” so they feel the need to make a sound that indicates that they intend to keep speaking. Now, I’ve never had anyone complain to me that they find my own silences disconcerting, but obviously these people must.
So what about you? You’re listening to someone speak and they lose their train of thought for let’s say somewhere between a quarter of a second and a second. Would you rather they say nothing while they gather their thoughts or add a sound or word that adds nothing topically to their sentence?