I just had a conversation and we said “actually” 47 times

A simple tool will help identify your filler words.

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I just had a delightful conversation with someone, and between us, we said “actually” 47 times. FORTY-SEVEN! The conversation lasted 48 minutes.

I’m a little embarrassed for us both.

And yes, this is another installment of “Joanna just learned something and now needs to share it with everyone because holy crap you guys!”

First things first. How on earth do I know that my new friend and I said the word “actually” forty-seven times? I record all my calls.

Now before you get all weirded out and start shouting at me about privacy, let me explain a bit of my process.

  1. When you book a call with me, I tell you up front I’m going to record the conversation and why.
  2. When you get the meeting invite with the dial-in information, it tells you that I’m going to record the calls and why.
  3. When you dial into the conference call, a lovely voice comes on and automatically says “This call is being recorded.”
  4. And if that isn’t enough, after the initial “hello” I tell ALL my callers that I’m recording the call and why.

Maybe it’s a bit of overkill, but I think it’s essential (and technically required by law) for people talking with me to know. Don’t worry. When you call me on my regular phone and for a chat, I’m NOT recording those calls.

So why record?

I record because I spend a great deal of time saying things like “You could say X” or “Maybe you could phrase it as Y.” This part of my process is where I play with language to describe your wonderful, awesome self. Pulling this off requires me to balance deep listening with improvisation and a healthy dose of the Jo Jo Magic. It requires me to speak and think at the same time. If you’ve seen or heard me do this, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you can watch me do it here.

There’s one tiny problem with this whole process. While I can pull the magic off time and time again, I can never repeat myself. The most common response to a Jo Jo Makeover? “OMG, I wish I wrote that down.” Quite the compliment but not very useful when you can’t recreate the language. Sadly, neither can I once the moment has passed.

So I record the calls and what I say is recorded. That moment when I hear the client’s value statement, the thing that is uniquely awesome about him or her is captured. Captured and then transcribed. Transcribed to I can share it back with the individual in question. This, my friends, is the whole point of getting a Jo Jo Makeover. With your help, I create and give you language to describe why YOU are uniquely awesome. Yes, I get to tell people why they’re awesome for a living. BEST. JOB. EVER!

But back to the forty-seven actuallys.

What I’ve learned from recording all my coaching calls (somewhere around 70 hours of recording since I started earlier this year) is there are a couple of filler words I say all the time. “Actually” is just one of them.

While I was clearly mirroring my client on the call the other day, hence the “actually-per-minute” problem, by reading the pages of transcripts of my calls I’ve started to notice them. And because I notice them, I have started working on eliminating them. It’s hard, but awareness is the first step, right?

We all have these words. Words we say when we’re thinking and want to fill in the silence.

……. Like
……. Um
……. So
……. Just

Words we say when we’re thinking and speaking at the same time. And because they’re filler words, we often don’t hear them.

We also know these are words we shouldn’t be saying. They don’t help us. In fact, they probably hinder us.

Are there calls you have on a regular basis that could be recorded? Would the process of recording and transcribing the calls be useful? Maybe the bonus result will be that you will be more aware of your filler words. Then perhaps you can start catching yourself.

Let’s not have your brilliance be overshadowed by a misplaced and repetitive “like” or “actually.”

It’s an idea.

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