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How to, um, help audiences remember

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Speakers should think twice before eliminating the “ums,” “uhs,” and other speech fillers from their message if they want listeners to recall what was said. These speech fillers actually facilitate recall for listeners.

Researchers used a story recall task as part of an experiment that tested how speech fillers affected memory for discourse. They used natural speech instead of “laboratory speech” and controlled for the extra processing time that fillers provide listeners.

“One finding that we had is that if you’re listening to a story or a speech, people remember the content better if the person says ‘uh’ and ‘um’ in it than if the story is completely fluent,” says Duane Watson, associate professor of psychology and linguistics at the University of Illinois.

“This is counterintuitive, because if you go to a speech coach, they say don’t say ‘uh’ and ‘um’.”

Full story at Futurity.

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