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How to Avoid Crutch Words in Your Speech

Parul Solanki Nov 24, 2018
Crutch words or fillers like umm..., you know... and like... make their way into a speech unknowingly. These words do not add meaning to the sentence, and often just make a person look like a blabbering fool. Learn some simple ways in which crutch words can be eliminated from the speech.
Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.
~ John Ruskin
How many times have we...um...like..you know..used fillers in our speech. Crutch words or fillers, like the ones used in the previous sentence, are unnecessary words that are used to fill up dead spaces while speaking.
Some of the common crutch words include um, for the record, actually and honestly. These words pad the sentence without adding any meaning to it, and often makes the speaker appear nervous or uncomfortable.
Too many crutch words while conversing is like a bad habit that we do not even know of, until someone specifically points it out to us. While most people tend to disregard it in everyday conversation, in a formal speech or an interview, usage of too many crutch words can make even the best presentation look bad.
For example, when making a presentation a person tends to use crutch words instead of appropriate pauses, making the speech look like a long jumble of words. One of the best way to eliminate usage of too many crutch words is by knowing about them and gradually eliminating it from everyday conversation. This will take you closer to winning over the audience.

Commonly Used Crutch Words

There are hundreds and thousands of crutch words. If you listen to everyday conversation you would feel as if there's a crutch word epidemic that's plaguing the world. We use them when we are unsure of what we need to say, or are hesitant about something. Sometimes. many don't even realize they are using crutch words. Some of the common crutch words include:
Like (Example: Sir like I have like this problem that I just can't like stop using crutch words.)

You know (Example: Crutch words are like ... you know...easy ways to fill a sentence.)
Ok (Example: 'I know this..ok'. or 'Yes, I will see you later..ok'.)

Fantastic (Note: Literally means coming from fantasy or imagination. Unless speaking about vampires and werewolves avoid the word.)

The thing is (Example: 'The thing is everyone's used this crutch word once'.)

Ways to Avoid Crutch Words

When in Doubt, Stop

Crutch words are used more often when a person is unsure about the sentence to use next.
The mind is so busy trying to figure out what to say that there is a strong urge to throw in a few crutch words like um...or you know... in between. If you are lost or in doubt over what to say next, just stop speaking, take a long pause, breathe in, figure out what to say and start off again.

Slow and Articulate

Speak consciously and slowly to avoid using fillers in your speech. If the speech is too long and you blabber continuously without thinking, then you might also be pushing in a few crutch words in between.
Structure the speech well to include as much information as is needed. It is best to memorize the tricky parts of the speech, like the introduction and conclusion which is where a majority of the crutch words are used.

Silence is Golden

We all know about this but how many actually use this. It is important to be comfortable in a little silence especially when giving a speech. The pauses help in emphasizing and getting the point across to the audience as well.

Practice It When you Can

Preparing and rehearsing for the speech is very important when trying to eliminate crutch words. Make it a point to pause when there is a comma or give two pauses at the end of the sentence.
If certain words in the speech need to be emphasized then underline them and practice them as they need to be said. While rehearsing if the filler inadvertently crops up, then go back and repeat the sentence without the filler.
This form of spot training is extremely effective for removing crutch words. It also helps to read aloud for ten minutes everyday. This not only improves vocabulary but also helps in reinforcing the correct speech pattern.

Avoid Crutch Words in Conversations

We use fillers in our daily conversations and the best way to cut back on them are by watching your words when conversing with friends or family.
Get a friend or your partner to help you out when rehearsing a conversation. Anytime you use a crutch word, the friend can point it out. Although it can be an unpleasant and often embarrassing process, but in the long run it helps in cutting down on crutch words.
Usage of crutch words tend to increase when a person is under stress or uncomfortable. Fillers make you look silly, nervous, less capable and untrustworthy. With constant practice and a conscious effort to remove crutch words, you can soon learn to give a flawless and confident speech.