In a interview Caroline Kennedy made the following statement "You know, I think, really, um, this is sort of a unique moment both in our, you know, in our country's history and in, you know, my own life, and, um, you know, we are facing you know, unbelievable challenges"
What was the message? She sounded tentative, nervous, and lacking conviction. The hesitancy becomes the message. It raises doubt as to whether she really wants to be a senator. When people feel strongly about something, it is evident in their language. They use fewer ums, stronger word choice, and a passionate tone.
After hearing her interview, the public questioned her ability to lead.
Let's make the message stronger:
"This is a unique moment and we face unbelievable challenges."
The first message got lost in the delivery. The second version is clear, strong, and memorable.
When you pepper your conversation with numerous non-words or fillers you dilute the message and weaken your leadership.
I've coached many intelligent, competent people whose leadership was challenged because of their verbal presentation.
Everyone uses one or two /ums/. But when it's excessive the speaker loses credibility and the audience stops listening.
One executive used 108 /ums/ during his presentation to shareholders. After coaching he reduced the number of non-words to eight.
Don't make people walk through the weeds to find the kernel of your message.