I have become a Toastmaster. It’s an international club focused on communication and leadership skills. Public speaking is becoming a bigger part of my “new life” devoted to producing my film about my family’s experience with suicide, and actively volunteering in suicide prevention so my sister, Leah, very kindly gave me a membership as a gift. I am enjoying it immensely, hear fascinating speeches, and really am impressed by the variety of members’ backgrounds, careers, and reasons they joined.
Recently, I had my first opportunity to be the “ah” counter, recording all the “filler” words like and, well, but, so, ah, um, er, you know…you know? It was illuminating to really listen for those in other people’s speaking. More than you think sneak in there so it is impressive to listen to a speaker able to avoid them. The trick, they tell me, is pausinginstead of using a filler word. The fillers simply allow your brain a moment to think, as does a pause. A silence just sounds more thoughtful than an unnecessary word. Go figure!
I have a lot of work to do. My first 6-minute speech had 24 “ums.” One every 15 seconds. Now that I know that, I have become hyperaware of when I say them. That, of course, leads to the brain going off track and “umming” all the way back on. It’s a challenge.
Noticing my speech also made my chronic “like” habit unacceptable. Many other people’s too, actually, but I’m only working on fixing me. This is the word I am now committing to, like, strike from my casual speech. No professional ums. No personal likes. Goal set. Stay tuned!
Check it out for yourself! https://www.toastmasters.org
Computer update for those following these blogs:I did finally update the computer when I game I like to play started slowing down. Shortly, thereafter, I started having problems in the cooling system of my computer, which is now requiring an expensive repair. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence of if my electronics were in cahoots.