They are the number 1 requirement on nearly every job description. They become more & more critical as we climb the ladder within our firms. How are your communication skills? Be honest with yourself. Are you concise & convincing or do you ramble on? Do people love your ideas & act on them immediately or are you misunderstood or (God-forbid!) interrupted? If you want to learn how to speak better this article is for you.
- Articulation is not the answer. Use linking by gluing your words together.
- Speak with pauses. Our brains process chunks of information.
- Be Relaxed.
How to Speak Better
First step: I can’t emphasis enough just how relaxed you need to be before & during every communicative situation. Not just giving presentations but communicating with colleagues & clients, when dating, making small talk, etc. Feel all of your muscles from the inside & make sure they’re just hanging down. No joke, kids. You’ll find that the more relaxed you are the better your communication skills. It comes as no surprise that when you’re sitting with friends you can describe your project so beautifully your friends think you’re the smartest person they know. Then your boss pokes his/her head in and asks how the project’s going & you might just be described as a stutterer. Who’s nervous. Not confident. When you come across that way your chances of getting ahead slow down a bit.
Articulation is Not the Answer.
My clients are mostly C-level folks who put themselves into more & more challenging speaking situations as they continue to succeed in their lives. I’m fortunate enough to have the pleasure of working with really smart people who know that self-improvement is necessary to achieve great success.
I hear many people say, “I’d like to improve my articulation.” Being articulate means speaking fluently & coherently. It doesn’t mean that you pop each letter very distinctly. In other words, articulating each letter doesn’t make you articulate.
Here’s one of the reasons why it doesn’t work: Because in Standard American English 1 letter does not represent only 1 sound (among other reasons). We have 5 vowel letters but those 5 letters represent 16 sounds. Instead of over-articulating your sounds, link them together. Don’t work on popping the final sound of each word. Allow the sound to blend in with the first sound of the next word. It’s called co-articulation. That’s what makes your speech fluent & fluid. Resulting in credible, authoritative & persuasive speech.
Record your side of a conversation and listen for over-articulation. (I challenge you!) Then work to make sure you’re not stopping between words & that you’re linking the words together within phrases & clauses. Let me know how you do!
Don’t Slow Down–Speak with Pauses.
There’s a lot of advice out there that in order to speak better you need to slow down. This is not complete advice. Don’t speak in slow motion. Instead, use pauses. Practice by making them uncomfortably long. You may think that people are impatiently waiting for what’s next but in reality, they’re merely processing the information that came prior. You’re in the future thinking about what you’re going to say next, your listeners are in the past processing what you’ve already put out there. With pauses, you’re all in the present! That’s how to speak better!
How many times have you been intently attempting to listen to someone & your mind wanders? Like, a lot, right? It’s the speaker’s fault! They are probably over-articulating–making them sound staccato; they’re not using pauses–It’s all bad. Processing speech is a very big part of communicating. It’s our responsibility to make it easier for our listeners to process our message. That is if we want them to follow our important call-to-action.