The Professor – A True Tale from My College Days Long, Long Ago

“Do you know how many times you’ve said ‘okay’ in the last minute?” she blurted out.

(Twenty times by my reckoning. She was not the only one counting.)

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He stopped. Public speaking was not his forte, though economics may have been.

“Twenty-three times!” she announced.

“Sorry,’ he said. “Didn’t know I was doing it.”

The rest of us knew and thanked her. We were on edge waiting for the next ‘okay’ and winced when it came. No sentence was immune.

“I’ll work on it, okay?” he promised. “But when it’s quiet you’ll know what I’m thinking, okay?”

Okaaaay!’ we shouted.

~ Susanne

33 Comments on “The Professor – A True Tale from My College Days Long, Long Ago

  1. Wow, that would get on my nerves very quickly, Susanne! These days, the word Like is ridiculously overused as is “ya know what I mean”? Ya know what I mean? 😂

  2. But that kind of thing does get quite distracting and annoying. And once you’re focused on it as a listener, it gets even worse! Glad the professor took it as positive criticism.

    • Exactly! We were all cringing at the next ‘okay’ and economics took a backseat! I think he benefitted from our constructive criticism. He was a TA and still learning the teaching craft.

  3. Something else I find annoying is when every phrase and sentence ends on an up note as if it were a question. I’ve followed the popularity of this for years, beginning with young women emulating Irish girls, to present day when even men (mostly on NPR) are doing it. That habit on top of the use of “umm”, “like”, and “you know” will make me turn off my radio. Then, don’t even get this grammar Nazi started on the exclusion of adverbs as in “don’t take it personal”.

    • ‘Um’ and ‘like’ are pretty common. I also have noticed the inflection at the end of a sentence. All are innocent but they can definitely distract from the message.

    • I completely agree – your comment is spot on! Adding to the end-of-sentence uplift would be the overuse of “vocal fry.” Sometimes I wonder if what is happening in broadcasting, whether via tv or (especially) radio, is the lack of an intuitive feedback loop that one gets from speaking to a live audience. In a radio broadcast booth it is easier for the interviewee to forget that they are speaking to a wider audience than merely the interviewer. That may mean that sloppy speaking habits are much more easily indulged!

  4. When I was having a performance review they recorded me. My word was ‘actually’. I had no idea I said it so often. Relieved to see I am not alone. 🐝🦜

  5. Well…OK! I couldn’t resist, Susanne! What a fun memory. I still talk like a California Valley Girl and I don’t care. I tried to take care when I gave lectures in my university classes for 10 years, but Like, ya know, it was OK 😉

  6. My sons had a math instructor in HS who had a nervous habit of removing his glasses. The class gave him their complete attention as they made hatch marks in their notes to keep track. I don’t think they learned much despite giving him their full attention!!

  7. Well done to her for calling him out on that. Over here, the latest annoying trend is to begin every sentence with ‘So’. As in, “So, we went for a drink”, and “So, how are you?”
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • I’ll never forget how she burst out with her question like she just couldn’t take it anymore. 😄 ‘ So,’ is another one. Maybe we’re all timid and don’t want to launch directly into a question or statement! We’d rather ease into it!

  8. Have you got the ‘like’ phenomenon over there, as in using it to mean ‘said’? Young people here say things like ‘So then I was like, I don’t know if I can come, and he was like, oh you have to, but I was like, I don’t know, I have others things on, and he was like, it’ll be fun …

  9. Effective public speaking should be a required course in every tv-weatherperson degree program. Over the years I’ve lost count of the ubiquitous use of “your” paired with chosen day of the week/week/month/year, afternoon, evening, morning, lunchtime, commute, dog-walk, hike, etc. As a modifier “your” is so overused that people actually contact tv stations to complain. The other one is “headed/ing toward” or “as you head into your” (double indemnity there) modifying every conceivable weather prognosticating topic. Long ago in K-12 we were coached in how to verbally deliver information in a meaningful (aka non-irritating) way. Apparently, that skill (among so many others) is no longer considered part of education. Sorry for the soap box….

    • You know grammar much better than I do! But I do know when a word is being overused and the speaker is unaware of it. In daily life it doesn’t matter. But someone should kindly point it out to a professional speaker as it’s distracting to their message.

  10. One more thing: working in TV, I found that most Hosts or on-air Talent will use a “starter word” to get them going, usually the word “NOW”….as is: “now, Experts predict that the earth….” they could have started with “Experts predict” but invariably use “now” as some sort of “vocal warmup” to set their. tone and pitch…like a singer I guess…okay?

    • Now. Okay then! Words for intro, warmup, filler, and close! Sports broadcasters repeatedly say, ‘you and I were just talking about,…’ before launching into a discussion of a player. Especially in baseball where nonstop chatter is needed. Seriously. Right? 😄 😊

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