Recently Mark Zuckerberg was criticised for saying “So” many times during a press launch. Some critics felt the use of “so” reduced the effectiveness of his communication. Here is the Telegraph article
So. Why is “So” objectionable to people? Is it because it is perceived as similar to the teen aged “Like” which is uttered every word, or “Awesome” that is uttered frequently?
Let’s have some facts! We all have mannerisms, and small words or ‘fillers’ that we use when we speak. This is because we are often speaking faster than our brains are able to process the thoughts. So an ‘Um’, ‘So’ etc helps our brains to catch up with our speech!
It is fascinating seeing politicians delivering polished speeches. They have rehearsed and the speeches have been written. It is likely they are reading from prompts too! They have no ‘fillers’. Yet if they are asked questions, these fillers come into the conversation!
When we hear recordings of ourselves in conversation, we all cringe at the ‘Ums’ but it is normal! So don’t feel bad. However, if every other word is a filler, it becomes distracting. The speaker loses his or her fluency and the listener is not only distracted, they lose the thread of the conversation.
So. What is the difference between a filler and a mannerism. I cringe when I hear teenagers say “Like” every other word. My friend cheers every time his son says “like”! W1A, the BBC comedy which parodied the BBC, had an intern, Will, who basically said “Cool”, Awesome” and “No worries”, which was a hilarious observation of the Millennials. I’ve had interviews on American radio, where the presenter/interviewer says “Awesome” every other word. I suspect it is whilst she was working out what to say next!
So. Is there harm in having mannerisms? If they become intrusive in the flow of speech, then yes. If it becomes difficult for the listener to be able to concentrate and understand what you are saying. Yes. But if this is part of your brand like a TOWIE cast member, then no: it’s part of your identity. But who takes these people seriously?
And to finish, during the World Cup I watched an interview of an English football player, who had clearly received media training. He spoke slowly, but bless him, he still said “Um” every 3rd word. Even speaking slowly didn’t allow the brain to catch up with what he was saying….