As a long time public speaking professional and Distinguished Toastmaster
, it has been embedded in my brain that verbal pauses, better known as "Ummm... errrr.... so..... and....." are one of the worse speaking crimes that one can commit. I have found this to be true in public speaking since non-verbal pauses can be so effective. But is that rule valid in podcasting? If you want the quick answer, it is "depends". For the long answer, read on.
Without doubt, a speaker's ability to construct a valid and topical sentence without using any of the verbal pause crutches is ideal. However, we all know how difficult that can be. Since communication is mostly non-verbal, a speech in front of a live audience can replace verbal pauses with silent ones. This shows the audience that the speaker is in control of his or her speaking. The audience knows more is coming by the facial expressions made during the silent pauses. But podcasting is a different medium than live public speaking.
In audio podcasting, all communication is verbal. A silent pause in an audio podcasting is known as "dead air" and can create an unprofessional and awkward moment. "Dead air" in a podcast is the equivalent of a speaker with his fly down in a public speech. The silent pauses are even worse when multiple people are on a show jousting to make their voices heard. A pause is an opportunity for someone else to jump in leaving your unfinished thought hanging out there.
Here are some techniques you can use to avoid using verbal fillers.
Become aware. The more aware you are of your use of these, the less you will use them.
Practice. Practice speaking without them.
Know your material well. If you know what you are going to say, you will rarely need to use a filler.
Remember, in podcasting verbal fillers are better than dead air and certainly better than someone interrupting your thought, so use them if needed, but practice not needed them.
Bo Bennett, PhD
Social Scientist, Business Consultant
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