Filler Words

In Toastmasters, we have a designated Grammarian in each meeting whose responsibility is to listen and then help people with their word usage and grammar.

Why is this important?

Many of us crutch words while we speak, most times we don’t realize that we are using these words or phrases.

Jerry Weissman expands on the negative impacts the use of crutch words can have on our credibility as professionals in his recent blog: Never Ask ‘Does That Make Sense?’

A ‘short’ list of meaningless phrases and words as noted in the article include:

• “You know…” as if to be sure the listener is paying attention
• “Like I said…” as if to say that the listener didn’t understand
• “Again…” as if to say that the listener didn’t get it the first time
• “I mean…” as if to say that the speaker is unsure of his/her own clarity
• “To be honest…” as if to say the speaker was not truthful earlier
• “I’m like…” the universal filler which says absolutely nothing

Some of our favorites from club meetings include:

  • Ya’know
  • Without further ado
  • Ummm…
  • Uh

How can we eliminate crutch words?

Being cognizant of what your crutch words are goes a long way to eliminating them.  As an example, I picked up the word “quite” from a friend.  It took my husband noting that I was using this word excessively for me to slow down and think of more appropriate words.  Friends, co-workers, a voice recorder are all useful.

As I am learning, practice and a pause go a long way towards eliminating many of these crutches.


2 responses to “Filler Words

  1. This is definitely one of my pet peeves! Makes me think of all the broadcast professionals that have bad habits of some of these. I listen to a lot of podcasts for my news, and they use overseas reporters–not foreign speakers, whom I give more leeway–that do little one or two minute reports/conversations with the primary hosts. These people commonly need Toastmasters! Especially if they want to get to where the host is in their careers.

    • Great example Dan. Working in the Design/Construction industry, I sit through quite a few presentations where filler words are used in every other sentence. The “Do you know what I mean” filler is also quickly becoming a pet a peeve. As noted in the article, it quickly undermines your creditability. Why not ask: “Do you have any questions?” It sounds more professional.

      I’ve also sat through presentations in which the presenter hasn’t edited their Power Point slides (Death by Power Point), they have too many for the time allotted. They end up flipping around making random comments, typically going over their time and losing the audiences attention. This is especially an issue in conferences where the rooms have been rented for a set period of time. This can cost the hosting organization several thousands of dollars. Maybe one of the next blogs should address that issue and offer some tips.

      Yvonne C. Bryant, AIA District 26 – F1 Area Governor Summit Toastmasters – VP of Education

      Website: Blog: Facebook: Summit County Toastmasters

      Architect | Planner | Interior Designer Motus Design Group, LLC cell: 210-887-3937 email:

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