Someone get Michael Vick a speech coach

Michael Vick, the football star who served time for leading a dogfighting ring, has bigger problems right now than to worry about giving good sound bytes. But his verbal crutch overuse on “60 Minutes” on Aug. 16 just rubs me the wrong way.

“You know.”

As an interviewer, I’ve become acutely aware of catchphrases and mental hiccups such as “you know.” I’ve come to expect them during interviews. In fact, I’ve read that a nice sprinkling of ums makes a person sound more human (people say that about President Obama) and that even telemarketers use them deliberately during their calls to sound more approachable. Then there’s Vick.

Vick used “you know” 24 TIMES during what was just a few minutes of actual speaking time. (Click here to watch it yourself.) Here’s the best one:

“And, YOU KNOW, it’s no way of, YOU KNOW, explaining, YOU KNOW, the hurt and the guilt that I felt.”

Multiple uses in one sentence, especially in one train of thought, are distracting, and don’t reflect well on the speaker. Professional athletes are among the biggest violators, and, sadly, you know, I think we’ve all just gotten used to it.

Fixing it really doesn’t take much effort. In our biweekly Toastmasters meetings, we use a dog training clicker to click after each ah, um or other annoying yet all-to-common speech tic to disrupt the pattern and hopefully help the speaker correct it. The click is uncomfortable, and you’re going to want to do anything you can to avoid it. Thus, you stop saying “um.” It really works.

Setting aside judgment on whether he’s sorry for what he’s done or whether he should be allowed back into the NFL, I think we’d all be more likely to sympathize if he cleaned up his act. Oratorically, that is.

One thought on “Someone get Michael Vick a speech coach

  1. IMO… the use of the phrase “you know” or “like” or “doncha know” or “by golly” lacks competence or conviction. I don’t follow sports enough to know what his educational background is, but if I was his manager, I would think some speech classes would pay off tremendously.

    As for his prior convictions. They guy did something that I feel is inexcusable. Yes I know the murder of an animal does not equate to the murder of a human but in my mind it is still murder. There is not a bone in my body that thinks this guy is “cured” Dog fighting… and an other inhumain expliotation of an animal is inexcusable and in my mind equlivelent to murder.

    Those who say he has served his time are sadly mistaken. His stature and money kept him from serving a longer sentance which is also a travisty and now he will go on… yes probably donating tons of money to animal rights, but still a criminal and still not ok in my book. By the way I am a meat eater… especially red, but I am an animal lover as well. Take that for what its worth.

    Daniel DeMeritt

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