Why do the words not come out as they sound in my head?
“I had it all figured out in my head. I knew exactly what I was going to say! Practiced it over and over in my head! But for some reason, it didn’t come out anything like I’d practiced! Why can’t I articulate my thoughts clearly?”
You’re at a meeting, and you have a brilliant idea. You open your mouth, words come out, but you’re looking at blank faces. Five minutes later, Daria says the same thing and gets all the credit!
Or: You’re conveying your message, but it’s coming out all Speedy Gonzalez or too high pitched. It’s not perceived as credible, and people have a hard time processing what you’re saying. That’s not going to get you where you need to go!
You have crystallized ideas in your mind, but getting them out is challenging. How can this be?!
Scroll down for the How if you don’t want to wait through the why 🙂
Why do your words not come out as they sound in your head?
We can have ideas crystalized in our minds; however, conveying them to others involves translation. We have to translate our ideas so our listeners may easily perceive them. Remember: your thoughts are well-cemented in your mind because of all of the experiences you’ve had and the pictures you see. You could be trying to explain yourself to your identical twin with whom you’ve had the same experiences for your whole life, and you still may have a misunderstanding.
Now imagine you’re the CTO explaining something to the CEO. Identical twins? Very far from it. Almost none of the same experiences and no same “mind images” or even knowledge. You depend on each other with your different proficiency bases.
(When I talk about pictures in our minds, I mean that when we learn the names of objects or concepts throughout our lives, we draw pictures in our minds. A simple example is if I grew up with a German Shephard and you grew up with a Shihtzoh. Our mind’s images of “dogs” would be different. It’s science.)
Here’s how to articulate your thoughts into spoken words.
- Learn how to make a high-stakes situation into one where you don’t worry about the outcome. How do we do that? We do that by removing the impact that fight-or-flight has on our bodies. You’ll need to learn to be relaxed in your high-stakes situations and treat them as low-stakes.
- Turn your message into your narrative. Redesign it a few times and make it YOUR STORY. The concepts you want to share should roll off your tongue (in different ways) in every type of milieu you find yourself in.
- Articulate your complex ideas more simply. Deliver your message in chunks or bullets. You must be concise with your message so others can process it quickly. People’s brains are working hard for them to survive and thrive. If it’s too difficult to process your message, their brains check out. You can see it in their eyes.
- Ask for confirmation. When you’ve completed conveying a concept, ask if you’ve explained it well. Don’t ask if your listeners understand; that’s off-putting.
- Speak slowly. If you practice these tips to slow down your speech, you’ll sound completely natural, and you won’t lose any time. 🙂
- Record yourself and assess. It’s not shameful not to be a perfect communicator. Anyone you know who’s excellent has worked on it! Be a scientist and make those improvements in your ability to convey your thoughts into words. If you put as much time into improving your speaking game as you do your tennis/golf game, you might go places. Love you!