I got another question from my mail of last week. The best part for me with these queries is that I don’t have to think about what to write. So please feel free to ask much more.

How come I don’t think people from my home country use crutch words as much? Or is it that I’m now more conscious of them?

The answer to that is quite simple. He was right about being more conscious of hearing speakers use these words. But also, some crutch words are particular to a specific set of people. For us as Nigerians, we use you know a lot. I mean, you know now, they’re like our favourite words!

These words dilute the impact of your story. Your audience spend too much time trying to filter out words that shouldn’t be there.

So how do I stop using these words? Before I answer,  I need a favour from you (quid pro quo, right?). I finally put together an online course, would you be kind enough to check it out and let me know what you think? Also, do tell someone you know about it? To check out the course, just click here. Thanks a big bunch.

So, here are a few tips to stop using crutch words (only because you just checked out the link above, else scroll back up and do so before going further).

Identify ‘Em

When I was starting off my training academy, my first thought which also drove the name is ‘see it to improve it’.

Until you are able to figure out which crutch words you use and maybe more importantly why you use them, I can’t really prescribe a cure. Hey, I just reminded you that I’m a doctor, well one who is not qualified to give medicines 🤣.

To discover which words you use often, record yourself telling a story. It doesn’t really matter  story. The first thing you’ll notice is that your voice sounds different from what you’ve always heard. Now, you know what we hear when you talk. After getting used to your voice, try to identify the crutch words – words that don’t add to your story. You can check back the post from last week to determine what type of words you use to fill the time. Secondly, why do you use those words? Is it because you were struggling for what to say (the mind is always faster than words)? Or is it because you wanted to take a breather? Or you just don’t like the sound of silence?

Practice

Would you believe that Messi and Ronaldo still practice kicking the ball? If you are not a football fan, these are 2 of the best players the world has ever seen. Simply put, even if you speak very well, practice to improve.

I won’t go into detail on practicing here – I might do another post on this in the future, if there is interest. For now, if you want a background on this, check this old POST.

Censored Speech

The first time I heard a friend use the word ‘sugar’ as an exclamation, it didn’t make sense to me. I mean, why would the word that comes to your mind be sugar when something is not as you would have expected. After observing her for a while, I realized that to stop herself from using vulgar or profane words, she replaced them with sweeter words. I found that quite impressive.

In learning from this friend, I gradually began to censor my own speech. In much the same way, if you realize that you are using a particular word too often, why not censor it? Replace that word with a (sweeter) more meaningful word. Now, I am not recommending that instead of uuhhmm, you know, you now say sugar. But by consciously turning your mind away from those crutch words, you can stop diluting your story.

Breathe In

Finally another tip is for you to breathe in. Taking a deep breath is another simple way of pausing while speaking. It gives you time to collect your thoughts while letting your audience digest what they’ve heard so far. A win – win, thus.

I realize that it would feel like the silence has lasted for hours, but trust me – at the most you are pausing for 3 – 5 seconds by taking a deep breath. Considering that our minds can operate at more than 3 times the rate of your words, those few seconds is your time to catch up.

My challenge for you this week is to determine your crutch words, how often you use them and why you use them.

Feel free to drop me a comment if you have more questions or would like specific help in stopping this.