I recently read a short paper on the nature of disfluencies. I looked at them from the aspect of the person steering the conversation and the participant. It brought up a point I had considered previously about what constitutes a disfluency.
I not going to tell you that I understood everything that was in the paper. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a statistics class but I still know a few of the terms. This paper breaks down various types of disfluencies and the ratio of those types by what they are in response to. The two main types, author Robin J. Lickley says are hesitations (uh, um) and redirects (a self correction and message alteration).
I’d say we’re most familiar with hesitations and you’ve heard many reasons for why we have those. I think the biggest reason is because our brains don’t keep pace with our mouths and we’re afraid of silence.
I had never previously considered a redirect. Lickley presents two different types of redirects, one where the path of the sentence is stopped and started when the speaker realizes they’ve used the wrong word. And another where the speaker redirects the sentence mid-stream to start over and take the learners perspective into account. Lickley uses an example where an individual is giving another directions and then realizes that the listener might not have the same point of references as they.
This is a small detail that happens all of the time but it was reinforced on during my work day last week. I was being certified on a new course and while I was successful at hitting all of the items on the training check list, the SME saw that it was clear that I didn’t understand the audience. By adopting the wrong perspective, real attendees would be distracted from the content and the illusion of my authority would be shattered, rightly so.
John Ruskin said “To be able to ask a question clearly is two-thirds of the way to getting it answered.” We need to clearly be able to see where we are and understand where our learners are coming from to position our content in an appropriate way. The more I learn about learning, the more important preparation seems to get.