Faster Than 20

experiment platform


March 24, 2017 – March 24, 2017

Anda and Paper Airplanes
Copyright Bre Pettis. CC BY-NC.

How might we...

How might I stop saying "um" when I speak?


If my peers throw paper at me whenever I say, "umm," I will eventually stop saying "umm" so much.


At the beginning of our day-long meeting, ask everyone to make a paper airplane or crumple up paper, and throw it at me throughout the meeting every time I say, "umm."


Measure the number of times people throw paper at me in the morning and the afternoon. Compare the two results.


  • Simply having the group accountability made me more self-aware about what I was saying, including other fillers I often use
  • I also became much more aware of when others used fillers
  • Light, fun feedback really helped, and it also helped lighten the meeting overall. Mark's virtual feedback and celebratory sign especially made me laugh
  • Slowing down my speech was the most effective way for me to avoid using fillers, and I think it makes me a more effective speaker / communicator overall


I want to make reducing my filler usage an overall priority. Replicate this experiment as often as possible — it's light, and I can do it in both professional and personal situations.


Hashtag #umm
Accountable Eugene
Team Eugene, Mark, Alison, Elissa, Jodie
Modified April 20, 2017


It’s been four weeks, and I haven’t had the chance to replicate the #umm experiment in another meeting. But I have shared the story a lot, and I also find that I am much more conscious about saying “umm.” Speaking more slowly continues to be the best way for me to avoid saying “umm.”

I’ve also become more hyper-aware of my other fillers: “you know,” “right?”, “the reality is,” etc. I am probably using the other fillers in place of “umm” at times.

Would be interesting to record a few meetings, count the umms / minute, and compare the results over time.

Final tally: 6 umms in the morning, 3 in the afternoon (along with this encouraging message from Mark!):

Simply doing the experiment (and probably the group accountability) made me more conscious of my, “umms,” even without the feedback. The feedback itself definitely helped, and it was fun!

Here’s a brief video (as part of the #kardashians experiment) explaining what I did and what I learned:


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