Like, um: Edwards rewards students for not using wasted words

Daphne Taras wants to put a stop to filler words. She came up created the Golden Tongue Award. The award is given to first year business students who can give a presentation for more than five minutes without using filler words or relying on a written script.


SASKATOON – The Dean of the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) simply can’t take it anymore and neither can donors.

Students’ use of annoying verbal fillers such as “um, y’know, like, you guys, and hey” are the target of a new awareness program at Edwards. With an application from a faculty member, students can be eligible for up to $200 in awards for being able to speak for more than five minutes without relying on a written script and without a “gotcha” moment of wasted words and verbal fillers.

The Edwards Dean’s Golden Tongue Award will be given to rare first-year business students who can meet the challenge. The inaugural group of winners receive the award on Friday, Dec. 4th, witnessed by their classmates and industry judges. Dean Daphne Taras will be tallying the verbal fillers and disqualifying any presentations that lapse into “Valleyspeak.”

“It is better to tackle the problem with rewards rather than punishments,” said Taras. “We can have a lot of fun while we emphasize the importance of communication and presentation skills.”

In a matching challenge, she pledged $3,000 and the Edwards School of Business quickly raised nearly $7,000 to create a pool of funds from which prizes can be drawn for years to come. Within minutes of her challenge, donations began pouring in.

“Clearly, a lot of business people in the community share my annoyance at poor speaking skills,” said Taras. “We don’t mind the occasional flubs, but the habitual and unconscious tic-like behaviour of speakers has to come to an end.”

This reward program is believed to be first of its kind in business schools and has been welcomed by students. It is a part of the first course that business students take after they are accepted into their Bachelor of Commerce program. Upper-year students mentored their junior colleagues and helped polish their presentations. Recipients of the Dean’s Golden Tongue Award will be able to add this talent to their resumes, with employers sure to be grateful.

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CTV Saskatoon 

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