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How to reduce annoying verbal tics

ThirithThirith Registered User regular
I've been editing our latest podcast episode this morning and I once again noticed that I have the one or the other verbal tic that I'm not very keen on. For the purpose of recording podcasts, it's especially the frequency with which I say, "you know". I think that's a pretty common thing, but I'm wondering if there are ways to work actively towards reducing such a tic. Do any of you have useful tips?

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"Nothing is gonna save us forever but a lot of things can save us today." - Night in the Woods

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  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    Have you looked for your nearest https://www.toastmasters.org? That's kind of their whole deal.

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    ElvenshaeL Ron HowardReverend_Chaos
  • Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Also, a speech therapist. You might not have a stutter or a lisp or anything like that, but they should still be able to help you. "Filler" phrases like "you know" or "uhhh" or "like" are still detrimental verbal tics.

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  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    Smrtnik wrote: »
    Have you looked for your nearest https://www.toastmasters.org? That's kind of their whole deal.
    Don't they mainly work on the entire "giving a speech" spiel? That's not something I'm too worried about - I worked as a uni lecturer for a few years and know from several generations of students and colleagues that I'm more than reasonably competent at public speaking. Chances are also that others don't notice as much how often I use the phrase, but it does bother me.

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    "Nothing is gonna save us forever but a lot of things can save us today." - Night in the Woods
  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    Thirith wrote: »
    Smrtnik wrote: »
    Have you looked for your nearest https://www.toastmasters.org? That's kind of their whole deal.
    Don't they mainly work on the entire "giving a speech" spiel? That's not something I'm too worried about - I worked as a uni lecturer for a few years and know from several generations of students and colleagues that I'm more than reasonably competent at public speaking. Chances are also that others don't notice as much how often I use the phrase, but it does bother me.

    Hey. So I do Toastmasters. We do it bi-weekly here sponsored at my work.
    The main way to practice is to give speeches in front of the rest of your club. You are correct here. I would bet dollars to donuts that you've used the filler words when you make public speeches. It's a hard habit to overcome, and we do it subconsciously. I know when I've given speeches, I think I'm doing very few filler words, and then, when given feedback, it turns out that I used tons of them. This is something I know others in my club have experienced as well. They've said they thought they've done well and then they get the count and they sound like they're stoned ordering from Wendy's.

    The really good speakers we have that have been doing it for years talk slower and clearer. They almost never use filler words, even in normal speech. Toastmasters doesn't just involve giving speeches in front of others, a main part is learning how to listen to others. Not just in content, but for those filler words and grammar. Since I've started doing it, I've tuned my listening to hear the bad grammar and regular use of filler words that others use, and I would say that it definitely has helped me.

    I would say go to a club's meeting. They have a definite 'after school club' feel, but for the people that stick with it, they do become better speakers overall. The cost is trivial, and looks good on your resume.

    At the meeting, you'll spend more of your time listening. Even if you're not giving a speech, you'll be participating in some other way. You might be the toast master for that session's meeting, meaning you'll be running it. You can be doing some of the other roles like 'Ah counter', whose job is literally to tally up the filler words when people speak. You could be the Grammarian, which listens for bad grammar and good, colorful speech. You could be the timer, who makes sure that when people are giving their speech, they don't take more than their allotted time. And if you aren't fulfilling those roles, and you're not giving a speech, you will most likely be participating in the Table Topics, which is where you are given a topic, and you have 1-2 minutes to speak on it. The form varies, but often we here either bring in things, like children's toys, or have pieces of paper cut up and you speak to it. In the case of toys, we've done things where you have to explain the historical significance of it, or why this toy is special to you, or anything else. The pieces of paper can vary widely. Last time, our topics were the most SFW searches from Google. The one I got was super lame, and I couldn't even go a minute. It was something like 'if you could choose any name, what would it be and why?'. But we've had ones where we were the head of a department of a branch in the US Federal Gov't and we have to tell the rest of the country a new initiative that we are announcing. I got Dept of Revenue, so I spent 2 minutes telling everyone that they were going to be giving us more money in taxes because we are evil! It's great.

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  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    Thanks, that gives me a fair amount of context. Apparently there are Toastmasters meetings close to where I work, so I may check them out sometime. And you're definitely right, I do use filler works when doing public speeches - it's more that there's really this one specific thing that I'd like to improve in particular and where I don't really know how to do so. There are other things I want to work on (especially with respect to turn-taking, as I'm doing the podcast with a friend), but I have a better idea how to actually do this.

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    "Nothing is gonna save us forever but a lot of things can save us today." - Night in the Woods
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Practice practice practice practice practice.

    The best way to establish or change a speech pattern is to practice it. Periodically record yourself speaking so you can hear your "uhs" and "ums" and count them, because you don't know how often you're using fillers and how you sound when you speak until you can play it back and listen. Also take note of your current patterns, and times when you use them most. Are you nervous in those times? Not 100% confident in what you're saying? Worried a joke isn't going to land? Concerned you aren't making sense? Maybe just slightly distracted or losing focus. If you get bored with what you're saying, that's a real problem because people pick up on it. Those fillers often point to some anxiety or other about what you're putting out there or how.

    You can work on some of those issues separately if you know what they are. If you lack complete confidence in the information you're imparting, study up one level beyond what you need to make sure you have it locked in well enough to elaborate. That's only one way to address a lack of confidence that you know what you're talking about. You can run your jokes by people different enough to give you a good idea of what someone might find boring or offensive. If you're worried you might not be understood by the listener(s), come up with some analogies for more complicated points. Write them down and practice them to make sure you don't lose the plot halfway through. It's a good way to make yourself more relatable, insert some light humor or sobriety, and keep you engaged with the material and your audience. Just make sure the analogies work; bad or inappropriate analogies sound stilted.

    Definitely go to meetings like L Ron Hubbard said (never thought I'd say that), but there's also a ton you can do on your own.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    Thirith
  • RollsavagerRollsavager Registered User regular
    Your mileage may vary, but in college I eliminated "like" from my vocabulary as a filler word by:

    1. Doing a push-up every time I realized I'd said it.
    2. Getting a friend to do the same thing (this helps with both awareness and accountability).

    By conditioning yourself to react in a new way to an existing behavior, you'll start to develop a sixth sense for it and eventually you see it coming far enough in advance to avoid it entirely.

    Worth a shot if you want something lower-commitment than Toastmasters.

  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    Thanks a lot for the additional tips. Some are admittedly difficult to put into practice because of the nature of the podcast: it's a conversation format and we agree on a topic beforehand but we don't script it, even if we tend to have a loose structure in mind. As such, the preparation part is tricky to implement (we prepare, but we also need to be prepared for the conversation to go to unexpected places), but not least because I'm the one who edits the episodes it's easy to be more observant of what I do, how I do it and when I do it.

    I am lucky (?) in that I very rarely seem to get bored with what I'm saying, which I guess is a good sign: when editing the episodes and listening to the result afterwards, I find our discussions quite engaging, even though by the time I listen to the draft edit it's the third time within a day that I'm hearing these talking points. Which sounds terribly smug and masturbatory, I know, but it's rare that I listen to the material and think, "Why would anyone want to listen to this? It's crap!" As such, whatever anxiety and insecurity there is, and there surely is some of this, it's on a more formal level, so to speak.

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    "Nothing is gonna save us forever but a lot of things can save us today." - Night in the Woods
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