Insertion Words Like “Em” Are Not so Bad and Can Be Used to Your Advantage
We’ve been taught to think that insertion words like “uh”, “uh” and “like” are bad, especially when it comes to public speaking. But, as Quartz’s Susmita Baral explains , there have been several studies that suggest that using placeholders offers some unexpected benefits. One study by the University of Texas Department of Psychology and published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology suggests that insert words can be used as personality markers and make people appear more conscious. Another study by Scott Fraundor, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and published in the Journal of Memory and Language , found that insertion words help listeners memorize.
But, according to experts, there is still a right and wrong way to use them. Fraundorf recommends trying to use only a few words when you speak, noting that too many can make it difficult to understand. And Stephen D. Cohen , assistant professor of communication at the University of Baltimore, suggests that you use “like” and “I mean” as fillers instead of “uh” or “uh”. People tend to be more lenient with words that involve contemplation than words that draw attention to loss of words. Cohen also notes that placeholders used in the middle of a sentence are less likely to be noticed, and a quiet pause may be a better form of filling if you want to make a strong impact on your listeners. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of placeholder words, see the link below.