Wednesday 9th April, 2014

Eliminating ‘comfort words’

Sam is a public speaker and a trainer. She says, ‘I always end up starting most sentences with ‘So’.’


‘So’ is one of the ‘comfort words‘ that we sometimes use when we speak because we want reassurance. ‘Okay’ and ‘alright’ are other popular ‘comfort words’. We say them almost unconsciously in an effort to reassure ourselves that everything’s going alright.

If we use the same comfort word to often it can be a bit annoying. The people listening may notice our overuse of the word and may think it’s your catchphrase or a nervous tic!

There are no bad words. A comfort word is simply a word in the wrong place.

Here’s a three-step technique to help you to deal with your own comfort words in a positive way.

1. Reflect on your comfort word. Take time to ask yourself why you need it and why you use this word in particular. What purpose does your comfort word fulfil?

2. Next time you speak, notice when you use your comfort word. Don’t try to change it, don’t try to stop it. Just let it happen. When you notice it you may allow yourself to smile internally ‘there’s that word again!’

3. After a few sessions where you notice the word but let it go, I want you to begin to replace the word with a pause. When you sense the word forming, draw breath to speak it but exhale without saying the word. This pause gives your audience an opportunity to reflect for a moment and is a very powerful way of developing the skill of charisma. Charismatic speakers pause with confidence. They don’t need to fill every moment with a word.

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