How to cure a verbal crutch in your podcast

Hello. My name is Steve and I have a verbal crutch.

So, whenever I talk to my listener via my podcast I want to sound, you know, conversational and sorta natural.

Anyway, um, I noticed that I kinda can’t get away from  starting every sentence off with “So, ….”

how to get rid of verbal crutch podcast


So… (see that, I did it again!) I presented my problem to an online forum and guess what? I’m not the only one suffering from this improper use of the English language.

There are many podcasters who use unnecessary words to bridge thoughts between sentences, many who have podcasts much more successful than mine.

The most common verbal crutches

Here is a list of the verbal crutches I use as well as some mentioned from the Podcast Technology Resource Group.

Beware: You can not un-read this!

  • Um
  • So
  • You see
  • Anyway
  • Kinda
  • Like
  • Ya know?
  • Well
  • Okay
  • Awesome
  • Absolutely

Now that you’ve read them, I’ll bet you start to notice them in your own show.

Sorry about that.


How to cure a verbal crutch

Here are some of the great suggestions the Podcast Technology Resource Group offered:

Mitch Todd, host of the Chocolate At Midnight podcast

A LOT of people use the “So” crutch. I hear it in interviews (podcast or otherwise) all the time and it drives me crazy.

Years ago, when I participated in Toastmasters, we did an exercise: the speaker would talk and the listener would clap every time you used a crutch – for example, “uh”, “um”, “so”, “well”.

This helped me back then. I need a refresher.


Ray Ortega, host of The Podcasters' Studio podcast

Slow down. When you give yourself enough time to hear it coming, you can leave it out.

Even if the slowing down sounds unnatural at first, you'll get back to a decent speed once you train yourself to not say “so” all the time.


David Jackson, host of The School of Podcasting podcast

Part of it is awareness (which means reviewing your show). My new one is “Right?”  Its like the American version of the Canadian “eh?”

The first step is knowing that I do it. That seems to help. I'm better at ya know than I use to be, and if you prep more and know what you're going to say you will get better at ums. Part of it is just practice.

Get used to a pause. Another big thing I do is if I do mess up, I wait 10 seconds (its a long time) and then go back and say whatever I was saying. This makes it SUPER easy to spot flubs.


the verbal crutch penalty jar

Wait, they get better

Mike Wilkerson, Owner of the 2GuysTalking podcasts network

Editing and training, as well as the “UmErUhYknow” Jar are how to cure a verbal crutch.

When we get to the jar, bad habits disappear pretty quickly inside my studio 🙂


Stephen Kling, host of the soon-to-be-released “Oh honey, yes” podcast

Have someone listen to you and literally count how many times you say the word. Once you become aware and hear it yourself you can try other words, being aware is the first step and sounds like you are.

A fellow trainer of mine said to me once don't be afraid of the power of pause – meaning not speaking. Often times we use filler words I.e so, um, like, we'll…etc. as a way to collect our thoughts and for us not to be perceived as boring or not having much to say. When in reality it's the exact opposite. Avoid them by being aware, and pause when your thinking of what to say next. It's a more powerful speaking method – I guarantee it's more noticeable to you than it is to anyone else. 🙂


Jennifer Ebeling, host of the Still Growing podcast

First I started by editing some of my favorites out of the podcast. I love to say awesome and absolutely.

Now I simply put a little postcard in front of my monitor and when I'm interviewing a guest I use one of the words on the postcard. All the words are transition words and positive affirmations such as that's fantastic, let's switch gears now, along those lines, I've been wondering, that type of stuff.

Anyway, the postcards trick works brilliantly for me. Give it a try.


How I am going to cure a verbal crutch in my podcast

I could join a Toastmasters group or have someone count how many times I say “um” or “you know”.

Until then, I can start by taking these three steps:

  • Review my podcast: I usually listen to make sure the download works properly but I’m going to start listening for the verbal crutches
  • Slow down, allow myself an extra pause between sentences, and mentally prepare to start the next sentence without a crutch
  • Position a postcard near my microphone with positive transition words like “That’s fantastic” or “Let’s switch gears now” or SHUT UP 🙂

Over time I hope to reduce the amount of verbal crutches in my show.


Do you have any other suggestions on how to cure a verbal crutch in my podcast?

Don’t let your podcast introduction be like a loaded DVD
Help a podcaster out: Copy your iTunes review into Stitcher too


  • Chris Pilon

    December 24, 2013

    Great tips, Steve! I’m only 4 episodes into my podcast but already starting to work on curing my verbal crutches. It’s not something I would have put a lot of thought into unless I read your blog, though, so thanks!


      December 24, 2013

      Chris, I haven’t noticed any verbal crutches in your show (I’m only through Episode 3). I’m curious as to what they are but don’t want you to tell me – it would ruin the experience!

  • J.D. Sutter

    October 15, 2017

    Fantastic article, Steve. I agree with Dave about “right”. I’m hearing that one a lot lately. I was listening to a show the other day and one of the hosts said “right” after nearly every single sentence. And I’m not exaggerating.

    I noticed that my problem is that I often begin interview questions with “now” for some reason. No idea where that came from. But I’ve picked up on it and have been getting better at eliminating it.

    • Steve Stewart

      October 15, 2017

      I know, right?

      I’m beginning to learn that just about any word can become a verbal crutch. What you said about using “now” to begin an interview is evidence of that.

      The good news is we can EDIT! So at least our listeners don’t have to listen to every use of our verbal crutches.

      What are you doing to purge your overuse of “now”?