Tripping over your words in business meetings or everyday small talk can be a large source of insecurity for many. After all, it can be overwhelmingly frustrating to have great ideas but have zero ability to communicate them.
Strong, spoken articulation is often associated with being more intelligent and more capable. Here are five ways to become more articulate in both your personal and professional life.
1. Listen to yourself.
Even if you hate the sound of your own voice, one way to become a better communicator is to record how you participate in conversations. Do you speak in many run-on sentences? Go off on a lot of tangents? Are you hard to understand? Identify your problem areas by listening to yourself so you can fix them.
2. Don't be afraid to pronounce.
One bad habit that can get in the way of powerful speech is mumbling. Fully pronounce each syllable to prevent trailing off when speaking; doing so also slows you down and gives audiences more time to understand your thoughts.
3. Keep it simple.
If you have a lot to say, it's OK to use simple sentence structures when speaking. Speaking in long, winding sentences will lose the attention of your audience, and can even make you forget what you wanted to say in the first place.
4. Forget the filler.
One surefire way to sound less articulate is to overuse filler words such as "um," "uh," and "like." These words indicate to your audience that you are unsure of your direction. As leadership expert Selena Rezvani says, rather than these filler words, consider using "Let's move on to..." or "Another important consideration is..." or "Let's transition to talking about..." as replacements.
5. Pay attention to your audience.
Here's a tip not many know: Your audience will play a consistent role in how you speak. Keep listeners interested in what you have to say by studying their attention levels, for example. Speed up your speech if your audience already understands what you're saying, or speak at the same vocabulary level as listeners. You can even vary how high or low your voice is in order to keep audiences interested. There are many speech-habit variables you can adjust.
If you struggle with reciting speeches or presenting your thoughts in a clear and understandable manner, now is a wonderful time to learn how to become more articulate. As philosopher Alan Watts says, "For me, being literate and articulate is a form of judo, of overcoming the [system] by its own method."