Words like “um” and “like” and “basically” are crutch words and this bad habit can be controlled with practice.

But I’ll be completely transparent on this topic right up front. It’s not easy to completely get rid of annoying crutch words in speeches and during media interviews but there are some things you can do to clean up your messaging.

Here are my top suggestions to get rid of crutch and filler words:

Know Your Crutch Words

You can’t get rid of these filler words until you know what they are. Record yourself on your phone or using a camera and that will be the evidence you need to identify the exact words you are using during your presentations or interviews. Early in my TV news reporting days, I was abusing the word “basically” and didn’t even know it until a kind viewer called and let me know I was using it all the time on-air, between thoughts. I fixed it and you can too but you must know what you are saying first.

Embrace Silence

Often we use these filler words to fill “dead air” between messages because we are nervous. Instead of thinking in terms or filling every bit of silence with words, think more in terms of delivering a message and pausing to give the audience a chance to take it in. It’s okay to have a couple of seconds between thoughts. Cut yourself off, take a breath, and in the process you will likely get rid of a couple of nasty um’s, likes, or basically, in my case.


The better you know your material, the more confident you will be, and the less likely you will be to excessively use crutch words. Put in the work and you can deliver a great interview or presentation without ever using filler words.

For more messaging and media tips, go here: https://www.dubekmediagroup.com/blog/

Rich Dubek is a two time Emmy award winning TV News Reporter and President of the Dubek Media Group based in Tempe, Arizona. DMG is a boutique media company specializing in media training and full service video production. https://www.dubekmediagroup.com