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Crutch Word

In public speaking, a crutch word refers to a filler word or phrase used excessively, often unconsciously, to fill pauses or hesitation while speaking. While they may temporarily fill the silence, excessive use of crutch words can distract your audience, undermine your credibility, and detract from the flow and clarity of your message.

Common Crutch Words:

  • Like, um, uh, you know, so, basically, right, I mean, just, kind of, sort of, etc.
  • Phrases like “you know what I mean?”, “Does that make sense?” or “Right?”.

Impact of Crutch Words:

  • Distraction: Frequent use of crutch words can distract your audience from your main points and draw attention to your speaking anxiety.
  • Lack of confidence: Overreliance on crutch words can create uncertainty or unpreparedness, diminishing credibility and impact.
  • Reduced clarity: Filler words can disrupt the flow of your speech, making it harder for your audience to understand your message and follow your train of thought.

Addressing Crutch Words:

  • Awareness: The first step is recognizing your crutch words by recording yourself or asking a trusted friend to point them out.
  • Practice and preparation: Thoroughly rehearse your speech, allowing you to speak more confidently and fluently, reducing the need for fillers.
  • Vary your sentence structure: Experiment with different sentence lengths and structures to create natural pauses and avoid relying on filler words.
  • Focus on content: Deliver your message clearly and concisely, leaving less room for hesitation and filler words.
  • Consider a public speech coach: They can provide personalized feedback on your crutch word usage and suggest strategies for reducing it.
  • Replace with silence: Instead of a crutch word, embrace short, comfortable pauses to gather your thoughts and allow your message to sink in.


Eliminating crutch words is a journey, not a destination. Be patient, practice consistently, and focus on delivering your message effectively. Reducing filler words can enhance your public speaking skills, project confidence, and engage your audience more effectively.

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