“So” is the new “Um”

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Have you noticed how the word “So” is being used more and more in conversation?

It’s also being used more frequently in business presentations, especially by the speaker during Q & A.

Question – “What will it cost?”

Answer – “So, it will cost the company three million dollars.”

In this context, “So” is used as a filler word instead of “Um” or “Ah”. It’s being used to fill that awkward silence while the speaker is mentally preparing their answer. Many speakers know they shouldn’t use ‘Um’ but using ‘So’ to fill the silence is equally as bad. Repetitive use of any filler word will distract the audience and undermine your authority as a communicator.

Other common filler words are ‘like’ and ‘y’know’, which not only distracts the audience but makes you sound as if you’ve just stepped out of the MTV music awards.

What you should do instead is simply pause briefly before answering a question. It shows you are thoughtful, measured, worth listening to and not pressured.

Also, a great tip is to pause for the same amount of time for easy questions as you do for the hard questions. The audience will not be able to tell the difference and will never guess where your arguments might be weak. Give it a try!