The Great "So" Debate: Filler or Transition?

Speech Transitions So Debate

How do you transition between points in your speech? Do you consider “so” a filler or a necessary transitional element?

Here’s what some of our members had to say:

Both a Filler & a Transition
“We sometimes pick on the word ‘so’ in our evaluations, so this is a great question to ask all of us. (Use of ‘so’ intended!)


In my mind it’s both a filler word and a useful transition depending on how we use it.


An easy way to determine which it is, is to ask whether it could be replaced with the word ‘therefore’.


“We sometimes pick on the word ‘so’ in our evaluations, therefore this is a great question to ask all of us.”


Its best usage is when it refers to a situation of cause and effect.”  — Kat

Comes Down to How Much It Is Used
I say one way to catetorize is depended on how many times “so” is used. Same applied to Ah. Or any anomalous action/gesture can be used once to make some memorable point.– Ben R.

Perhaps It Comes Down to Usage
I think… that I swing from one part of a speech to the next on a concept or phrase. By that I mean I’ll mention a word or idea or concept, such as “Distinguished Club,” and then say, “So, how do we become a Distinguished Club?”


I guess it’s about developing the concept or examining it from a different angle. I might say: Let’s look at this another way. Or, What does that mean? Or, Is that true? Or, Secondly, or, Thirdly, or Finally, or In Conclusion.


I definitely use “So…” But I’ve been critiqued for using it too much. Perhaps it’s the unconscious use of ‘So…’ that listeners find irksome. Just as any habitual trait is distracting. — PJ R.

Lessons from Writing Carry Over to Speaking
I find that I overuse “so” just in as much in my writing as I do in my speaking. When I proofread an email before hitting send I find that many sentences which I thought required a transitional “so” actually read much better if I just dropped the transition altogether. A sentence actually becomes more powerful if it stands on it’s own than merely a continuation of the previous sentence. I’m trying to take the lessons I’ve learned from my writing an apply them to my speaking.


One place where I use “so” often in my speaking isn’t as a transitional word where “therefore” would work just as well, nor as a filler word, but as a moving on word. When a conversation or presentation has gotten off track I feel a need to announce we are coming back to the original topic. This is where I often find myself starting a sentence with “so.” I think occasional use of “so” in this context is OK, as long as it doesn’t become too habitual. — Michael S.

One thought on “The Great "So" Debate: Filler or Transition?

  1. In TM we are nothing if not versatile therefor the use of “so” in our writing and speaking can be many things as pointed out in comments made above. To me it can have great punch near the end of a presentation – it says “Pay attention here I’m wrapping up”. Like any other expression use it sparingly. Kay

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