An app for that? Um, maybe

We should resist the call to scrub our speech of ‘filler words,’ accents, and other markers of where we come from and how we relate to people.”

Nora Caplan-Bricker taking issue with speech improvement apps

screen322x572Ummo is an iPhone app released by a team of MIT and Harvard students. It promises to track your ums, likes and you knows, in order to help you, like, get rid of them.


At The Buckley School, we’ve long had an app for that. We call it The Dread Bucket, and it involves marbles and a metal pail. High tech stuff. But it does help speakers recognize habits they might not be aware of.

It’s true that The Dread Bucket does make some speakers feel distracted as they struggle to think and ditch old habits simultaneously.

Not everyone believes making speakers hyper-aware of their um-you knows is such a great thing.

Responding to the release of Ummo, one writer says it’s yet another means of taking unfair swipes at women’s speech patterns and regional accents. You can read her take here.

Her points are worth considering. Many a speaker has asked us how to get rid of a regional accent–and we say keep it! Our wish in most cases is for people to relish their accents and the other qualities of their speech that make them distinctive.

We’re not ready, however, to come to the defense of excessive um-ing–though at least one writer has tried to make, um, a case for that.

Your thoughts?

Make Yourself Bigger?

One of the most popular TED Talks comes from psychologist Amy Cuddy.

She explains how you can use body language not just to communicate to others–but to influence your own thoughts and feelings.

She says to feel more confident, you should make yourself big, striking the starfish pose you see depicted on the cover of her bestselling book.

Does it work? We’ve tried it before some Buckley School debates, and we can say it doesn’t hurt!

Here’s Cuddy’s TED Talk, if you haven’t yet seen it: