Thursday, February 19, 1998 at 04:00:18
Interesting site, Mr. Rose. In case you didn't know, Toastmasters International has local clubs all across the globe. At each Toastmasters meeting (usually weekly), we practice improptu speaking, prepared speeches, and speech evaluations. We also assign an "Ah Counter". The Ah Counter counts the number of filled pauses and reports at the end of each meeting. It certainly helps each member become aware of how often these pauses occur, how distracting they are, and how to practice avoiding them. If you need more information, you can visit the Toastmasters International Home Page (www.toastmasters.org, I think). Good luck with your research!
Yes, I am familiar with Toastmasters International, though I had never heard of the 'ah' counter. I had even wondered whether I ought to join since after my last conference presentation an attendee wrote on an evaluation form, "Would you please stop saying 'uh'!" It certainly seems true that in these situations the level of tolerance for filled pauses is clearly lower--when one has the time to prepare, one has less excuse not to be fluent. However, my research is looking more at unprepared speech. And it seems that listeners have a much higher degree of tolerance (thankfully, for me...). There even appears to be a filtering phenomena where listeners (and even speakers) don't even realize how disfluent they are.
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