I was in a customer meeting last week with a product manager, salesman, customer and senior architect. They were describing a new product offering to a customer and all of the people involved were injecting “you know” into the conversation. The meeting went well and I suspect that everyone involved was unaware of the “you knows”, but I was really distracted. Each person had a different rate of insertions, but there were well over 200 “you knows” in the one hour meeting.
I have observed similar behaviour with other pause phrases like “ummmmm” so the actual content of the phrase is not that important. What is important is that a considerable amount of time and energy was spent relaying no information. I’m pretty sure that all the people involved did actually know.
As an outsider, who was for the most part silent, it was fascinating to watch. The exchange could have taken 20 – 30% less time and I feel that random pause phrases highlight the speakers inability to keep the conversation flowing with relevant information. It seems kind of unprofessional and implies a lack of preparation for the exchange.
Maybe I’m just getting old and crusty, but on the off chance that I am right, you could do what I do when I’m playing music. Record yourself and review how you speak. I believe that you will get much better results without the pause phrases. Leaving silent pauses will also allow other people to speak and add to the conversation.