Sunday, March 15, 1998 at 13:20:21

Your site is an interesting confluence of pause filled disfluency. I'm an expat living in the Philippines and ESL is an important issue for development of our engineering staff. I also was a member of Toastmasters for several years back in  the states and we also had an "Uh-counter" (grammarian) assigned for each meeting that gave a report at the end for all the prepared speeches and impromptu speaking.  With the increased awareness, practice and constant feedback at Toastmasters meetings I'm sure you too could increase your self discipline to control the um.. urge.  However, my guess is you're having too much fun with this site and being a skilled self proclaimed pause filler to do it, Nice site design.  Enjoyed the content.  Keep up the good site.

I even wrote a "mentor's minute" Toastmasters speech on eliminating space fillers. It's sort of a position paper of the Toastmasters viewpoint that I'll be happy to send to you

- JF

I would really like to read a copy of your "mentor's minute", if possible.  Although I am a 'self-proclaimed pause filler' I consider it more of a confession than a coming-out-of-the-closet, as it were.  That is, this is something I want to master.  I'm beginning to recognize from both my own academic research and from the seasoned comments in feedback to the FPRC that really talented speakers are not necessarily the ones who never say 'uh' or 'um', but rather those who have mastered them and know when they are appropriate to achieve certain communicative functions and when not appropriate can achieve hesitation through lexical means.  I think Toastmaster's could probably help me develop this skill, but I'm afraid the nearest club is about 300km away.  For now, at least, I'm on my own...

Here is the short document on space fillers I mentioned. It was a one minute speech for a Toastmasters club meeting segment we called our "mentor's minute".Feel free to use any of this on your site.


Toastmasters has prepared speeches and also impromptu speaking in which the speaker has the floor. In those limited speaking situations, holding the speaker's turn with a space filler does not apply and is a distraction. After becoming sensitized to space fillers in the club they really stood out everywhere. In the club setting I observed many people quickly and successfully weed out space fillers over time and the improvement in their delivery and impression given by their speeches by doing so was dramatically improved. The most annoying use of space fillers of all to me is when someone uses space fillers as punctuation which expects the listener to extract the phrases and message out of the chopped up delivery. That shows lack of preparation and great disrespect for the audience to my way of thinking.

Out of my time at Toastmasters I became aware that professional speakers work at their craft. Behind the scenes of every polished so-called natural speaker is a lot of hard work to weed out weaknesses including any unintended use of space fillers. I agree that comedians use space fillers on purpose and with great effect. Weeding out space fillers begins with awareness which you already have in great resolution. Thanks for increasing my awareness of the wider world of space fillers.

Thank you very much for your contribution.

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Last Revised: 99/08/26

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