“What is wrong with you?
Why do you keep on saying like when you speak?
Is this the kind of English you want me to grow up repeating?”
(I cannot confirm or deny that is exactly what the child pictured is saying)
Over the last week or so, I have been catching up on a number of podcasts that I am subscribed to. They cover a wide spectrum of business, storytelling, education and comedy themes. Some are the popular ones and others less so.
What I noticed was how many presenters filled their statements with like.
having the same characteristics or qualities as; similar to.
used to draw attention to the nature of an action or event.
Not as a preposition as mentioned above or even as a conjunction
in the same way that; as.
e.g. “people who change countries like they change clothes”
It would even be ok as a formal adjective.
(of a person or thing) having similar qualities or characteristics to another person or thing. e.g. “I responded in like manner”
These presenters (and their guests) are always using like as an adverb.
A filler word instead of a considered pause to think about what they are saying.
I listed five (I will not name them) podcasts where this a consistent theme, and it made me think out loud “Why is this so common?”
As a speech coach I am constantly working with my clients to drop filler words like “hmm”, “errr”, “basically” and“like” when they are delivering presentations. I address this because it is important to form positive habits, especially if at some point one has to deliver high stakes presentations where a lot is it stake. Clarity and authority are as much a part of a great presentation as is great content and visual aids.
Using like as a filler makes you sound uncertain and undermines authority.
My fellow educators can also attest to being frustrated by the amount of times students use like, as an adverb, when expressing opinions in their lessons.
So what can we do to stem this tide?
Slow down. This is the basic premise.
There is nothing wrong with using like as a connective or an adjective. Slowing down allows you think about what point you are trying to make.
If you take a moment before you speak to think about what you are saying rather than rushing in, you will find that you are less likely to use filler words.
Practice makes progress. When presenting or speaking, whether on a podcast, one to one or to a live audience, rehearse before hand so you are not having to think so much on your feet and try to fill your sentences.
Practice, practice, practice.
Feedback. Lastly get feedback after your presentations. Whether if that is your own feedback by recording your content and listening to when you use the word. Or by getting a colleague/friend/coach to listen to you live and note where and when you used it, so you can note this for future reference.
It is not easy to change but stick with it like.