You probably do it all the time without even realizing it: drop “um” and “uh” into the middle of sentences. While to many, it’s a sign of an unconfident speaker, psychologists say that we actually use it to keep the person or people we’re speaking to engaged and to let them know there’s more coming, and works better than filling that space with silence, which might confuse the listener.
In other cases, we use it as a bit of a placeholder as we think of the answer to a question we’ve just been asked.
Now as someone whose job it is to talk to people on the radio, saying “um” and “uh” is a habit I personally have worked hard to get out of. I’m still far from perfect – I still do it all the time – but I’ve certainly gotten much better since I identified it as an area that needed improvement.
For Ariana Grande, her job is to sing to people. She obviously knows all her own songs and how to sing what when, but when it comes to talking to people… Well that’s usually a little less rehearsed, and you can kinda tell that she might struggle a bit with that part.
Yeah, she says “Um” a lot. Like so much that someone actually made a parody music video:
However, I feel like the best indicator of just how much she says “um,” and how painful it can be for the listener, is this guy who decided to take a video of her making an acceptance speech for an award, and eating a hot pepper for every time.
I don’t know about you, but I can really feel his pain about halfway through the video:
Well, I feel like that kid’s just given himself PTSD for anytime anyone says “Um” around him… But we all benefit from his video, so thanks, Ariana Grande superfan!