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.” (Stopping your sentence mid-thought, obviously, detracts from the message even more.) The fact of the matter is might be a more sophisticated version of um, but for Biden, it served the same purpose—especially in combination with other favorite fillers in the same sentence.


To learn more about filler words, check out my blog post on “Eliminating the Dreaded ‘Um.”

How to Stop Saying Um, Er, Like, and You Know

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