Disfluency is an interruption to the flow of speech. This may be a stutter, a prolonged unintentional pause, or the use of filler phrases such as “um,” “ah,” “like,” or “you know.” These breaks in communication can diminish the effectiveness of a presentation, and distract a listener or audience. Studies have shown that younger people use fillers more often than older people; and that sounds such as “um,” are vocal “fillers” used while the speaker is processing their next ideas. Disfluencies are not necessary though, and can be overcome. Simple measures to combat them include preparation (you are less likely to need time to formulate thoughts, if they have been done in advance). Practice also aids in avoiding fillers, as you will have already established you flow and are familiar with your ideas.  You may be able to overcome these interruptions in speech by asking someone to note and then point them out to you when you use them.  Being gently made aware of any reliance on disfluencies is the first step in conquering them.


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