Tag Archive for: web technology

Writers Block
Writers Block

Do you struggle with writer’s block? I get it when it comes to writing for myself.

For me, nothing is harder than coming up with ideas for my own blog. Give me your blog, and I’ll come up with ideas pretty easily. But for my own blog, it’s a little more difficult. I guess it’s all due to subjectivity.

Still, I can offer three easy ways to identify new content ideas with varying freshness.

  1. Repurpose older content
  2. Expand your reading
  3. Use AI to get ideas, although your mileage may vary

Yes, I am suggesting AI even though it still hasn’t responded to my requests from earlier this year about giving credit to earlier content it “scrapes” off the internet.

1. Repurpose Older Content to Create Fresh New Content Ideas

Repurposing content is one of my core services. Good content deserves to be showcased in different ways!

As a writer, I prefer to update older content and republish or write a new blog altogether, even if it falls into the evergreen category because there will always be updates or new information.

waterproof boots repurposed as planters
Repurposing content in different formats can generate new ideas for next time. Paid stock photo.

But there are other ways to repurpose content if blogging isn’t your thing.

Create New Formats to Repurpose Content

Looking at content in a new format gives it a unique perspective that can help you generate new content ideas. You’re probably rewriting some of it and definitely editing. The content will look different and that might be enough to generate new content ideas as you work.

Most of all, putting content into another format extends its reach to new audiences. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Create slides based on blog content you’ve already published.
  • Or, create blogs based on any slides you’ve presented.
  • Record a quick video. I’ve seen some really nice one- and two-minute clips on LinkedIn.
  • And of course, any video can be transformed into a blog or other presentation.
  • If there isn’t enough content for a slideshow or blog, consider creating an infographic.

Here’s a list of free infographic tools recommended by Website Planet. I’m about to start using Canva again with a new client; a friend who has the Pro version loves it. And who hasn’t dabbled in a Google tool or two?

2. Refresh Your Mind: Expand Your Reading

Reading expert opinions is always helpful, but it’s also a good idea to expand your reading just for the fun of it and even into completely unrelated areas. It gives your brain a break and that’s always a great way to open it up to new content and ideas.

When you get back from your hiatus, you might find you’re picking up on new-ish ideas more readily and have fresh perspectives to share as well. I subscribe to a ton of SEO newsletters and watched a webinar from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) this morning. And you know what? I’d laid off reading SEO stuff for a few weeks and probably got more from this webinar because I give my brain a break.

I caught up on back issues from Wired and Smithsonian.

Get new content ideas from mags like Smithsonian and Wired.
My favorite reads. Photo by the author, c. 2023


I picked up a copy of Gerald Posner’s Pharma from the library after watching Painkiller on Netflix. (Matthew Roderick may have lain Ferris Bueller to rest after this one.) I also bought a copy of American Prometheus to read before I see Oppenheimer. I have a feeling it will be on Netflix by the time I finish it (and Pharma isn’t exactly a short read, either.)

Did I get any new content ideas from these sources? I’m sure I did. I’m thinking about metaphors a lot these days and that alone spawns a lot of creativity.

I also caught up on emails, which is a great way to get an overview of other people’s thoughts. In addition to SEO, I subscribe to health and medical newsletters and print journalists whose work I simply enjoy reading.

3. AI Content Stinks and Doesn’t Acknowledge Sources – But It Can Suggest Topics

There’s a lot of talk about the role AI should have in generating content. Thanks to lazy students who use it to cheat and its plastic approach to generating content, there’s a definite backlash against replacing human writers. This is good for writers and readers because only humans can come up with new content ideas.


Only humans can come up with original ideas and content. AI just steals, uh, “scrapes” them.

Apparently, AI can identify useful content and use it at will. Case in point: I offered one of my older articles to a prospective client. He reported back to me that it scored high on their AI detection tool but ran it through others where it scored zero. (He also hired me.)

Transformer-type figure in front of laptop.
“Wow, great article! Think I’ll steal it!”
Photo: CreativeCanvas/Pixabay

Katie Greenwood, a product manager for the collaboration platform Miro, recommends ChatGPT as a way to jump-start research into new content ideas. In the past, I tried using ChatGPT a few times for a blog with a long-time client, but it came up with topics I’d already written about. So perhaps it’s a useful tool to integrate into researching new topics.

Allie Bhutani, the brand director for the SEO platform Conductor, helpfully reminded everyone that AI is more than ChatGPT. It’s in tools like Grammarly, which I’ve used for years. Point taken, but I won’t cheer on AI’s alleged writing skills. As Allie commented, no one should use AI-generated content without editing it and, one hopes, finding the sources AI “scrapes” and giving credit where it’s due.

For some, writing comes easily, almost naturally. But even the most enthusiastic content creators sometimes struggle with new content ideas. I used to write a weekly blog on decorative hardware for a manufacturing client. I did this for about eight years, and believe me, there were weeks when it was a tough job. Rewriting and updating older blogs was an approach I often used when no new products were on the horizon.

I also read design magazines and blogs, where I found decor suggestions to pass along (with proper acknowledgment, of course). I learned that paint manufacturers roll out new palettes every year. Decorative hardware isn’t cheap, but it’s less expensive than a wholesale remodel. The more ideas I was exposed to, the more new topics I could create.

What do you do to overcome artistic or creative blocks? Drop me a line or set up time to talk.

Silhouette with Nothing Wrong printed along with a huge question mark
Silhouette with Nothing Wrong printed along with a huge question mark

(With apologies to Michael Moore)

You can’t buy the publicity ChatGPT has enjoyed the past few weeks. It seems like there’s a fresh news item about it or a new take on how it will change the world every day. I read about it online in my usual sources and even hear about it on the radio (thanks, NPR).

I admit it. I’m jealous of ChatGPT. It’s getting all this free attention! I’m also afraid of it. I’m a writer and this thing is being touted as a way to replace me and my kind.

Need to write a snazzy post for Facebook or LinkedIn? Sign up and ChatGPT will create original content for you!

No more dealing with moody writers who want to be paid a reasonable fee for their work. No more messages on LinkedIn asking if you need content support or sending newsletters you might not ever read! ChatGPT is the ultimate free tool to replace those pesky life forms knowns as writers and artists.

Rant over.

To cope, I’ve been trying to identify ways that ChatGPT and I can get along since I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. But for ChatGPT and me to get along, we have to set some guidelines. Here are my demands.

Dear ChatGPT: Ditch the Hype and Be Honest About Your Purpose

There is a lot of hype around you, ChatGPT, some of which might be false or exaggerated. It’s up to you, ChatGPT, to come clean on what your purpose is.

At this point, I don’t know what to believe. I see posts from people on sites like LinkedIn who are just amazed by your writing talents. And then I read in The New York Times that a philosophy professor in Michigan had to confront a student about his apparently flawless paper; its perfection was a red flag. The student admitted that you wrote the paper. Yes, you.

ChatGPT, philosophy is a difficult topic. I struggled in the philosophy classes I took in university and earned every bit of those C grades. And still, I enjoyed it. The intellectual challenge may have lowered my GPA, but I’m still grateful I was introduced to William James and Henry Adams.

Photo of philosopher WiIlliam James
William James

Allowing the hype to go on that you’re a great researcher and an amazing writer allows and perhaps encourages students to cheat, and that’s just not good for anyone. Cheating disrespects academic discipline and perverts the purpose of a university education which is to encourage analytical thinking in one’s field as well as master certain skills.

Students don’t realize it, but cheating will harm them and not just if they’re caught. I can’t imagine how terrifying it is for a newly-minted accounting graduate to realize that they don’t understand how to create a profit and loss sheet or perform an audit. These really aren’t things their customers want them to Google.

Don’t Even Pretend to Be Ethical

Can we teach ethics to artificial intelligence? I doubt it. Too many humans don’t understand it or don’t want to be bothered with ethical questions.

I admit I once wrote a paper in college for a friend who was about to fail a political science class she took because she erroneously thought it would be an easy A. The paper wasn’t great and took me about an hour. It earned her a C, and she ended up getting a passing grade.

Silhouette with Nothing Wrong printed along with a huge question mark
Is anything ever wrong? Credit: John Hain/Pixabay

Was this the right thing to do? Probably not. I did it at least in part to end the chatter from my psych major friend – who was an academic superstar in her department- dissing one of my major areas of study. At least I was smart enough not to write like it was for myself.

So please, ChatGPT, either you or your Creator needs to come clean about why you’re here. This brings me to my next demand…

Stop Telling People You’re a Creative Tool

The most offensive thing about ChatGPT is its claim that it’s creative enough to write content and create art. It isn’t. Everything I’ve read and heard over the airwaves talks about how it “scrapes the web” to learn everything from tone and grammar to artistic styles. Nothing it creates is actually original.

Yes, I know imitation is the best form of flattery. But I gotta be paid, and so do all the other artists and writers out there. Our work is copyrighted, which means you can’t freely borrow from it.

I Want ChatGPT to Credit the Sources It “Scrapes”

ChatGPT, do you know how to credit someone else’s work? I’m not talking about crediting a direct quote. I’m talking about crediting where you get your ideas.

For example, I credited Michael Moore for inspiring the title of this post. And I’m not even from Michigan!

Michael Moore and female fan
Michael Moore and fan, New York City, 2017.

So be honest. Take note of whose work you’ve encountered as you scrape along, and be nice about mentioning the names of those whose thoughts and efforts helped you come to whatever conclusions you reach from all your nonstop, 24-hour research that we mortals can’t do.

If you quote someone directly or even mention them, be nice and link back to their website. Trust me, this will bring you some goodwill, and frankly, ChatGPT, you need this.

Here’s How AI and Machine Learning Can Help

I feel I should stress that I am not a Luddite. There is a place for artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML; remember that?) to help us work faster and smarter.

After all, I’m using WordPress to create this post. WordPress lets me write while it does all the coding. I’m rather proud to say that Grammarly has pretty much been high-fiving me lately but I do rely on Yoast to make sure that what I’m writing will perform better for me in terms of attracting readers.

These are great tools. Am I cheating when I use them? I really don’t think so. I know some HTML (who doesn’t?), but my goodness, all that coding can really slow me down. I’d rather focus on the actual content. In spite of all my complaints about Gutenberg, WordPress comes through for me.

This is how I wish ChatGPT would behave. Help people work better and smarter so we can focus on what we do best. Stop implying/hinting/stating that it can replace writers and artists because it can’t, at least not yet, and it shouldn’t.

And if it won’t, well, then I think it should pay its fair share of taxes.

WordPress lanyards with label Code is Poetry
WordPress lanyards with label Code is Poetry

I love my new website but working with it is stressing me out! Here’s how I’m dealing with this.

Hand reading braille page
Hand reading braille page

Accessibility is almost routine in public life. Handicapped parking, wheelchair ramps, curb cuts, accessible bathrooms, and Braille signage are in public places and many private ones, too, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Wheelchair ramp along a wall

Photo: Andrzej Rembowski/Pixabay

Of course, there were no websites back then. It wasn’t until 2008 that new legislation was added to the ADA to instruct them to adopt accessibility tools.

But ADA compliance is far from a reality for most websites – even those owned by government agencies.

Many Websites are Required to be ADA-Compliant but…

Your website should be ADA-compliant do if it represents a government or receives funding from a government, according to AudioEye, a business with the goal of “eradicating every barrier to digital access.”

The reality, though, is that this hasn’t happened everywhere. A 2021 article in WP Tavern detailed how Colorado became the first state to require state and local websites to be ADA-compliant. Clearly, states haven’t been focused on this, which is a little surprising considering how many offices closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and still require people to go online to access services, including – ironically – disability support.

Each agency in Colorado was instructed to submit an accessibility plan by July 1, 2022, and be fully compliant with the ADA by July 1, 2024. Those agencies that don’t meet the latter goal can be sued by a person with a disability for a $3500 fine.

Does that sound disturbing? Sometimes it’s the only way to get compliance going.

President Biden had WhiteHouse.gov relaunched to be compatible with current ADA standards according to its accessibility statement. His predecessor declined to enforce ADA deadlines ad even withdrew guidance. That action has been reversed.

ADA-Compliant Websites are Better for Everyone

Why would I say this? It’s simple:  we all will eventually need some kind of support as we age.

We will all need some kind of support as we age. We can thank ADA for taking us there.

Let’s at least agree to make these steps a normal practice for websites:

  • Add tools that enlarge fonts or allow a black/white contrast
  • Add alt text to images that are read out loud on screen readers

low vision magnifier for reading text

Photo: bspence81 /Pixabay

These are pretty minimal steps, and it’s worth noting that search engines read alt text to understand images, which adds a little bit more SEO muscle to your website.

Many people with low vision use magnifiers to read newspapers and magazines. And guess what: taken as a whole, people with disabilities and their families and friends are potential customers. They work, buy stuff, go out to eat, and enjoy the same entertainment as the rest of us.

Why lose an opportunity for more sales?

These Tools Can Help You Get Your Website Moving Toward ADA Compliance

If you use WordPress, your site probably isn’t compliant, but a few hours of your time can bring it closer to the goal. It’s relatively easy to improve accessibility for people with visual disabilities if not actually meet ADA compliance goals.

A Google search for “ADA website tools” will identify articles, tools, and experts to help you understand what to do to make your site more accessible.

I’m a small business and do not run a place of public accommodation, so I don’t have to concern myself about ADA rules. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take a few steps to make my website a friendlier place for a person with limited vision to visit and think, hmm, I wonder if I should contact her for my blog or to freshen my stale site content? (Yes, please contact me.)

WordPress has a number of plugins that provide everything from testing your site to identifying ADA gaps to providing general and very specific fixes. You can search the WordPress theme repository for ADA-compliant themes. (Be sure to refresh if you use this link.) WordPress’s own accessibility team posts updates, news, and recommended tools. I use one myself.

ADA Website Compliance Tools

I’m not in a position to recommend tools, but I know these come from reliable sources.

Making websites fully compliant isn’t easy for those of us who aren’t techies. But making them easier for people with low vision to navigate is pretty easy.

I added the UserWay accessibility tool that makes reading this site a little easier for people with visual disabilities, as well as those with dyslexia. It allows users to adjust contrast, increase text size, and increase spacing. I hope people find it useful. And of course, I add alt content to every image and link on my website.

For my previous site, I installed the WordPress Accessibility Toolbar that allowed my visitors to create a black/white contrast or enlarge the font.

The toolbar also comes with a menu that lets you select additional features to fix potential accessibility issues, such as forcing underlining on links and preventing links from opening in new windows, which can make browsing difficult for people with low vision.

The ADA Changed America for the Better

The ADA, of course, literally opened American doors to persons with disabilities. And that’s a good thing.

  • Curb cuts and wider doors let people who use wheelchairs (and later, scooters) get around more easily.
  • Braille readouts on ATMs, elevators, and directories allow people with low or no vision to more fully participate in commerce.
  • The use of close-captioning tools brings more deaf people into worksites, cinemas, and theaters.

Curb cuts are helpful to parents pushing strollers and kids learning how to ride a bike. And many of us have used the larger accessible restroom stall not only for its purpose but also to keep a little one close by and change clothes and/or diapers.

ADA also made us work more intelligently.

Think about innovations like IM, texting, and other person-to-person communications that helped office communications and cut down on chatter which makes it hard to write. They also reduced the instances of the embarrassing or annoying “reply to all” on email.

I remember reading about a deaf colleague in New Orleans who was stranded during Hurricane Katrina. She worried about using up her cell phone battery as she tried to contact a sister outside the state via the TTY tool. Mobile communications were jammed, and calls couldn’t get through—but texting used minimal power. She eventually got through to her sibling as she walked (yes, walked) to the airport to catch a flight out. Guess who came for dinner?

Black woman on smartphone
Black woman on smartphone

My new-ish smartphone started prompting me a couple of weeks ago to install WiFi calling. Since we’re still getting acquainted, I’d lose the notice as soon as I tapped in my PIN and I’d get sidetracked by something else.

But then the prompt remained visible and I went through the brief process of installing WiFi calling, which I knew nothing about. In an age where nonsequiturs like “alternative facts” or “collusion isn’t a crime,” abound, I had reason to believe WiFi calling had nothing to do with my router. But, it turns out, WiFi calling (forgive me the Clash hit is now an earworm)  is exactly what it implies. Imagine that!

WiFi Calling Fixes The Problem of Shaky Cell Coverage

WiFi router

Now you want me to take your calls? / Pixabay – Wikimedialimages

I live in a weak cell phone zone. Every cell phone coverage map I’ve looked at except one shows my neighborhood to be in a weak zone. I have no reason to believe the supposed standout is any better than the others and anyway, I don’t like the company.

As a result, I’ve dropped many calls in my time. Since I use a smartphone for my business, this really was a problem.  I figured WiFi calling was worth a try. My new smartphone, which is also on a new network for me, seems to be better about hanging on to calls, even when I’m on the sketchy north side of my house.

WiFi calling is supposed to be faster than 4G and can connect in more places, which so far seems to have fixed my problem with dropped calls. I’ve had uninterrupted phone conversations in different parts of the house. It didn’t seem to cause any interference with the other connected devices in our home, either. To be honest, they don’t gobble much data. As far as I know, no one here is doing heavy-duty gaming or running a cryptocurrency operation.

What Took Me So Long to Get WiFi Calling?

So why was I suddenly getting messages to encourage me to connect to WiFi calling? And why didn’t I have it sooner?

To answer that first question, WiFi calling isn’t pre-set on smartphones even though those manufactured since 2016 can “seamlessly switch between 4G and WiFi” according to one FAQ. To answer the second question, most Android phones manufactured before 2016 didn’t have WiFi calling capability, including my older phone. (It became available on the iPhone 5c.) Perhaps it took a few months for my provider to realize I  hadn’t taken this step, or analyzed my bill and saw I was using their weak cell towers.

WiFi Calling Is Free! (For Now)

It occurred to me a few days after I installed WiFi calling that this could be one way for sneaky Internet service providers (ISPs) or mobile providers to charge for better services.

Much to my surprise, WiFi calling is free when used within the US, at least for now. It will not count toward minutes if you aren’t on an unlimited calling plan and apparently it won’t count against your data usage either since it relies on access to WiFi networks. Keep in mind, though, that Net Neutrality is officially dead. I’m not optimistic that ISPs won’t figure out a way to measure the data used for WiFi calling and charge accordingly. It shouldn’t be long before they take advantage of the so-called “light touch” regulation the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) now embraces.

Am I paranoid? Well, arguably yes but I do rely heavily on the Internet for my freelance work. I conduct a lot of research and a good chunk of my writing lives on the Google Drive and Dropbox.

ISPs Love WiFi Connections

I had, of course, set my phone to work with my WiFi for Internet access. I don’t recall seeing a prompt to set up WiFi calling during this process which strikes me as odd.

ISPs want more devices connected to them and have created whole-home connection services, or WiFi extenders, for an extra charge. Comcast recently introduced the Xfinity xFi Pods, small pods you plug into an outlet and connect to Comcast’s xFi Wireless Gateway or xFi Advanced Gateway. Everything is set up using a mobile app that pairs the Pods with a router compatible with the whole shebang. You can also monitor performance through the app. Pods come in six-packs and three-packs costing $199 and $119, plus a monthly charge.

Cox, the major ISP where I live, has the Panoramic 2-in-1 WiFi Modem that looks like a smart speaker. It’s not explicitly calling it an extender but it does advertise a lot of the same benefits: whole-house coverage including normally dead areas “for all your devices” and a Cox Connect app. The WiFi modem has 24 channels and is available with the $60.99 Internet service, plus $9.99 monthly modem rental. The modem itself is rental only and includes Cox servicing and replacement.

Not that I have a choice, but the Cox package is more appealing to me than the Comcast one.

Perhaps the ISPs are colluding coordinating efforts with wireless phone providers to add smartphones to their services. There is definitely an advantage to having higher speed Internet than the minimum basic or starter packages. And if consumers are more satisfied with their wireless providers, they’re less likely to be tempted away to another network. I can see the mutually beneficial arrangement.

More WiFi Calling Benefits

As I’ve noted, WiFi calling is free throughout the US including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. And some wireless providers offer it free overseas in countries where the service is available, but you will still pay for international rates if you are placing the call unless, as I learned this summer, you call a US number that happens to be outside the US. In that case, the charge goes to the party that picked up the call.

You can, of course, get around this by using your Skype app or WhatsApp.

You can use WiFi calling when your phone is in Airplane mode. I do not know if this will get you kicked off an actual airplane; check with that carrier.

Have the engines stopped running?

Boy shouting into old-fashioned microphone
Boy shouting into old-fashioned microphone

“Can you repeat that?”

I find myself asking this a lot. It seems I encounter more people who don’t, or can’t, speak clearly. Many are of a certain generation who are just as stereotyped as the Baby Boomers with whom I am supposed to identify.

(Actually, I was relieved to read that I can also claim to be part of Generation X with whom I identify more closely. I don’t feel like I have much in common with those lucky hippies who got to see The Doors and Cream and Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.)

As I ask “can you repeat that?” I realize I am stereotyping myself into the Baby Boom, who have been retiring since 2014 and who I bet has a lot more hearing loss than I since they got to see all those great acts before the era of stadium concerts.

Please Speak Clearly, Dammit!

As one who works within marketing, it bothers me that I have to ask someone who makes a sales call to me to repeat himself or herself. I can tell by speech patterns that this is almost certainly a person at least 15 years younger than I. So dudes, please slow down a bit and speak clearly.

I mean, I wouldn’t write an article or blog that doesn’t define its jargon.  I know what it’s like to not be hip or tech enough. Thank God for magazines like Wired and sites like TechCrunch and CNet. Without them, I’d feel very alienated because I grew up pre-Internet. I mean, we got cable TV relatively early and that was when I was in high school.

When I’m speaking with the general (read: younger than me) public, I find I’m asking that question to please repeat what you said more often than ever. It could be due to natural hearing loss that comes with age.

But there’s more: it’s been floated in a couple of places that technology has downgraded the necessity for clear speech. Certainly, it’s been blamed for messing with written speech—just look at the last couple of texts you sent or received. But there’s something to be said for brevity where it’s appropriate. I think more people are growing up speaking more rapidly.

Research shows people are speaking more rapidly today.

I came across a 2011 article in which Wichita State University speech expert Ray Hull explains his research that shows people increased their vocal speeds from 145 words per minute (wpm) to 160 – 180 over a decade. But most people comprehend the spoken word best when it’s down at 124 – 130 wpm or so.

Moreover, in a more recent (2016) article about slowing down speech for young children, Hull also noted that the central nervous system reaches its peak effectiveness in the early 20s. But it starts to slow down in the 40s, particularly in the area of speech processing.

No wonder so much strife has been noted between Millennials and GenXers/Baby Boomers. We/they literally can’t stand to talk to one another!

It’s Even Harder to Repeat Spoken Words

I have a part-time job with a company that provides telephone captioning services over the Internet for people with hearing loss. It’s really opened my ears to speech patterns, including speeds and accents.

Caption employee trying to understand spoken content.

What did he say?

Instead of typing out live speech, we are trained to listen and repeat using speech-to-text software. This is thought to provide more accurate translation, and so far I’d agree in general.

But it’s not easy to repeat spoken words verbatim, particularly when you are an invisible middle person and there’s no body language to observe.

I have been surprised to learn that it isn’t just fast talkers I find most challenging: it’s fast talkers with accents I don’t often encounter. I never lived further south than Northern Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. And while I heard a lot of accents over the many years I lived there, most people I associated with sounded more or less like me.

It’s said that Southerners speak more slowly. Well, that isn’t so when they are talking to one another. Try to caption a Texan relating exciting news to a fellow Lone Star resident. I find it’s easier to keep up with New Englanders on a conference call.

I was curious to see if fast talkers dominate the Mid-Atlantic States so I did some research.  A couple of years ago, The Atlantic reported on a study that ranked states by the number of fast talkers based on actual phone calls.  Somewhat surprisingly, New Yorkers were not found to be the fastest speakers. They weren’t even close: the state ranked all the way down at #38—far behind my native New Jersey, which came in at #19.

Oregon was home to the fastest talkers, followed by Minnesota—a little startling to me—and Massachusetts, which wasn’t so surprising.

I then compared this list of fast-talking states to a map that ranks states by their populations’ youthfulness to see any correlation. Oregon is a bit older than the national median age (37.9, according to the Census Bureau) at 39.2 years, not much younger than Massachusetts at 39.5. Utah has the youngest median age at 30.7. It’s also ranked #31 for fast-talking, perhaps because it has a younger population that’s still in their developing years.

I didn’t find a correlation between a state’s median age and how fast its residents speak.

Texas, though, is a youngish, 34.5 median age state. But it’s at #44 on the fast-talking list. Maine has the oldest median age in the nation at 44.5 but ranks #21 on the speech list.

So there isn’t much of a fast-talking/median age correlation.

Customer service centers with live operators can be challenging to repeat because many of their employees are young and talk quickly. Many are instructed to keep calls under a certain number of minutes in order to process more incoming calls.

Some of our customers will inform service reps that they use a captioning phone so their responses will be delayed a few seconds. That does tend to slow down some of the reps, or at least stop asking “Can you hear me? Can you hear me?” over and over.

Even more frightening are outgoing voicemail messages where the only discernable sound is that of the beep. Even voicemail greetings from doctors’ offices can be very difficult to follow because of their speed and the amount of information the caller is asked to leave: date of birth, name, the time you called, which doctor you see, and oh yeah: why are you calling?

Be Kind and Speak Clearly: The Nation is Aging

Eventually, the fast-talking Millennials will get older (I hope!) and will ask people to slow down for them.

I don’t mean to Millennial-bash. Some of the nicest people I know are of this generation. But if we’re all going to get along and do meaningful things, we need to slow down the way we communicate. Most Americans are approaching 40 or past it. With age comes a caution to understand everything that’s being said!

As Hull notes, slowing down your speech is good for everyday conversation. You’ll sound more articulate. Your speaking style will sound more natural as well. “The next time you’re talking to someone,” he told Wichita State’s NewsWise service, “remind yourself to slow down. Your listener will thank you.”