Ums and Ahs are known as “fillers”, meaningless sounds we make to fill in the gap while we’re thinking of what next to say.
Consistent use of these interjections could make one sound hesitant, insecure or unconfident. It can be distracting to the listener and imply that your thoughts are everywhere.
But are ums and ahs all that bad?
On the upside, fillers may help a speaker’s ‘believability’ and create a sense of honesty and authenticity for the listener. It could also help the flow of the conversation and minimize interruptions during interviews. Meanwhile, my comrades in a podcast community group have also shared their thoughts:
Brad Kaplan says he cuts out a lot of ums and ahs and the more his podcast has gone on, the better he’s become at speaking so he does a lot less of it nowadays.
Ed Cunard is currently cutting 80%-90% of ums and ahs and the likes. He adds that he leaves them in on rare occasions if it’s an interviewee’s speech pattern or if it provides some element of flavour.
Ada Zdanowicz says in the beginning, she chose to leave them all in. But as the show grew, she became better at speaking and uttered them less.
Abishai Aziz Al Doory has been cutting them out for about 9 years and won’t stop. But won’t too much editing make conversations sound unnatural? He argues that only poorly edited audio would.
Personally, I try to strike a balance, leaving just enough breath and pauses to show I’m human or that my guest is too.
So, how about you? Do you leave them all in or take them all out for better listening?
What’s your workflow like?
Here are tools to fix this in post-production, online. For those of us who are more hands-on with Adobe Auditon, ProTools or Audacity, try out these cleanup solution for creators: ERA BUNDLE or the izotope RX8.
If you need help with polishing your podcast audio, book-a-chat with me.