Some people are blessed with the “gift of the gab” or the ability to speak with eloquence and fluency. They’re able to express their ideas in a clear and concise manner and possess the skill to choose the right words at the right time to lend more clarity to their thoughts. That’s what articulation is – a unique combination of command over language, a rich vocabulary, and an appropriate choice of words and phrases.
An articulate person excels at public speaking. An articulate speaker uses communication skills like pitch variation and body to get his or her meaning across to their audience. They also understand the nuances of human speech and how to break down an idea into distinct parts to make an articulate argument.
Becoming more articulate with your words is important and will serve you well in every interaction in both your personal and professional life. With the right communications skills, you will become a better team player. As you learn to use the right words and be more articulate, you’ll also become a better contributor as you voice your opinions and offer solutions to team members. Practising skills like voice projection and good posture will improve your performance in front of a large crowd and boost your confidence.
With that said, do you have what it takes to become an articulate speaker? We share some secrets from Reader’s Digest on how to improve your articulation.
1. Listen to yourself speak
It’s awkward and cringe-worthy to listen to a recording of your own voice. But when you listen back to yourself, you’ll be able to identify your bad habits. Do you only speak in long sentences? Are you using too many filler words? You may find that you need to use pauses, slow it down, or vary your sentence length. Listen for technical issues, such as filler words, up talk, monotone, and run-on sentences, as well as habits that sound awkward or uncomfortable. Identifying the problem is the first step towards tackling it. These conversation starters will make you more interesting.
2. Monitor your speed
Speaking shouldn’t be a race to the finish line. When you rush through your words for no reason, you’re prone to mistakes. On the other hand, you don’t want to speak too slowly or you’ll lose your audience. You need to know when it’s important to talk faster versus slower. Speaking faster can show passion and excitement while speaking slower is often deliberate and serious. According to Carol A Fleming, author of It’s the Way You Say It, aim for about 155 to 175 words per minute for normal conversation. If you’re reciting background information or summarizing something, pick up the pace. If you’re explaining something more technical, slow it down.
3. Eliminate filler words
If you’re wondering how to be more articulate, it’s probably because you’ve caught yourself over-utilising words such as “um,” “like,” and “ahh,” which can make you sound unsure. The good news: you can turn this weakness into a strength by replacing fillers with pauses. Great public speakers often pause for two to three seconds or even longer.
4. Focus on the final sound
Your final sound is how you finish your sentences and speech. It’s your closer and what your listeners take away. Avoid trailing off or mumbling by making a conscious effort to fully pronounce each syllable. Pay special attention to the Ts in contractions and the final words of sentences.
5. Study Other Speakers
Learn from other articulate speakers. For inspiration, tune in to a radio show or your favourite podcast and analyse the host’s speech. He or she has likely squashed any verbal ticks, and can help you identify effective patterns of speech.
6. Speak with confidence
Do you know that the way you hold yourself even when talking on the phone affects the way people perceive you? To speak with confidence, extend your vocal cords by keeping your chin parallel to the floor and sitting up straight. Avoid moving your hands too much.
7. Think before you speak
Make it a point to know what you’re talking about. Having a clear idea of what you want to say will allow you to organize your thoughts into a coherent structure.
So there you have it – a guide to speaking with eloquence. Put some of these tools into practice right away and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an articulate speaker and effective communicator.