Mastering Ummm…

There is one thing that commentators, politicians, orators, and public speakers avoid, and that is the word, “umm”.  “Umm” has a connotative meaning, generally one of “I can’t think of what I’m going to say right now, so to keep the conversation going, I will say…”umm”.  If you would like to know just how popular this word is, watch “Meet the Press”, or any other program that features live conversation.  The problem with the word “umm”, is that the speaker is not saying anything, nor interjecting anything of any sense, but attempting to collect their thoughts.

Attend any public speaking group, and they will tell you that the word “umm” is not the only word in a person’s repertoire.  It is followed by “ahh”, “like”, “err”, and “you see”.  I have often wondered if a person could hold a conversation using only these words.  I remember Jeff and Jer, San Diego radio personalities who would often come up with morning show antics with Laura, helper boy Randy, or Little Tommy.  They had a bet that Little Tommy could not hold a 50minute conversation with anyone just saying one word.  Little Tommy chose the word “Dude”.  Little Tommy started calling people, and was striking out right and left.  People were hanging up on him, thinking he was an idiot.  Until…he found the right person to have his conversation with.

Person on the Phone: “Hello?”
Tommy:                              “Dude!”
Person on the Phone:  “Dude?”
Tommy:                               “Du-u-u-ude!”
Person on the Phone: (Laughs) “No, who is this?”
Tommy:                              “Dude!”
Person on the Phone:  “Dude?”
Tommy: (More emphatic) “Dude!”
Person on the Phone: (Laughs again)  “Du-u-u-u-de!”

Yes, this conversation actually lasted for 5 minutes and 50 seconds before Jeff and Jer got on the line, and told the person being called that he had won a prize for staying so long on the phone with Little Tommy, just holding a conversation with one word.  Now, I don’t know if this would ever work with “ummm”, “ahhh”, “like”, “err”, or “you see”, but what an interesting conversation that would be!

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