How the Debate Clock Beat Joe Biden

I was quoted in a Vanity Fair article on Joe Biden’s verbal ticks during last night’s presidential debate. Here is an excerpt: For high school debate coaches and public speaking experts, Biden broke two cardinal rules: first, avoid filler words, and second, always finish your thought, even if it means running over time. As Harvard public speaking expert Steven D. Cohen wrote, filler words may be a natural tic in human speech, signaling that the speaker is trying to verbalize a thought in real time, but they “often detract from the listener’s ability to understand a particular message.”...

Why We Say “Umm” and How to Avoid It

I was interviewed for an NBC News video on why we use filler words and how to avoid them. My interview segment begins at the 1:33 mark. “Filler words such as ‘umm’ are ubiquitous across cultures and languages. Research suggests they have a real use, but be careful about how much you use them.” To learn more about filler words, check out my blog post on “Eliminating the Dreaded...

Want to Be a Brilliant Public Speaker?

I was quoted in an article on Inc.com about the importance of pausing regularly when talking. Here is an excerpt: Award-winning speaker Steven D. Cohen of Harvard University acknowledges the cognitive value of fillers. But as Toastmasters International points out, too many fillers can distract your audience. That’s why so many speech experts recommend trying to eliminate them from your conversations or presentations. Cohen asserts that the easiest way to do this is to pause. Now, you’re probably thinking, “But I can’t pause! Pausing will make me seem...

Should Public Speaking Be Part of the College Curriculum?

I was quoted in a Harvard Crimson article about the role of spoken rhetoric in the liberal arts curriculum. Here is an excerpt: So what is spoken rhetoric anyway? An art? A practical skill? Steven D. Cohen, who holds a faculty appointment at the Harvard Extension School, where he teaches “Oral Communication In the Workplace,” splits spoken rhetoric into two components. “On a basic level, there’s what you say and how you say it. But what I write about is the music beneath the words,” Cohen said. Vocal performances have a clear connection to spoken rhetoric, but Cohen said that even music without lyrics...

11 Words You Should Never Say During an Interview

I was quoted in an article on CheatSheet.com about the 11 words you should never say if you want credibility. Here is an excerpt: Uh, um, like Filler words like these make you sound dumb and kill your credibility in seconds. Who can concentrate on your accomplishments if all they’re hearing is, “Then, um … I, like, saved the company, uh, I’d say $10,000 in return fees.” Prepare what you’re going to say ahead of time, and speak in shorter sentences. It will help prevent using these words more than necessary. Steven D. Cohen of the Harvard Extension School says we’ve been conditioned to speak when spoken to....

Listen: How to Make America Even Greater

My research is quoted extensively in a Huffington Post article that calls for Trump supporters and Trump opponents to listen to one another. As the author notes, “We should listen as long as it takes. We should listen as much as it takes. We should work through our justified sense of violated dignity, and practice listening anyway. We must get over ourselves and show the respect we want. We must be the change we want to see – or hear.” Here is an excerpt: I define listening as what it takes to make the speaker feel understood and respected. This sounds simple, but it is actually incredibly...