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How to be more articulate (without having to eat a dictionary).

How to be more articulate (without having to eat a dictionary).

By Eleanor Beaton

The first time someone interviewed me live on air I was a cold, sweaty ball of ums, you knows and half finished sentences.

The experience was so thoroughly disheartening that I made a vow to forever end my battle with conversation fillers and poorly uttered thoughts. I would become a
paragon of sweet clarity.

I realized I’d won the battle when THIS happened. It was clear to me that I’d come a long way.

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to connect the message inside with the words that come out of your mouth, here are some tips to help you put your best words forward.

Let silence do the heavy lifting.

Thoughts are like seeds – they need room to grow. Plant them too close together and they choke each other out.

When you do make a point – especially an important one – give it the silent breathing space it needs to truly land in the mind of the listener.

If someone asks you a question and you need a moment to formulate your response, quietly take that moment. No noisy explanations required.

Believe in yourself – right to the very end.

One of the most common articulation blocks I notice is the tendency to speak in half- thoughts and unfinished sentences.

We often start out with a perfectly good thought. But halfway through our delivery, we start to second guess the thought, write it off as overly obvious, or otherwise sabotage what promised to be a useful, lively exchange of ideas.

When a useful thought bubbles up inside you – treat that thought like a true and solid friend. See it through to the very end. Don’t turn your back on her halfway.

Boil it down.

I love me a good ramble. A ramble in the Scottish sense, that is.  Meaning: a long, vigorous walk through the highlands. With the promise of a cozy fire, a big stone house and a wee dram at the end of it.

The other kind of ramble – the point that is a century in the making? Not so much.

If you find yourself taking a looong time to make your point, try this. What’s the one- sentence end of your story? If you were to boil your point down to it’s most powerful one-line essence, what would it be?

Say that first.

People usually need much less backstory than you might think.

Keep your hands away from your face.

Gesticulation is a wonderful thing…just keep your hands clear of your face.  Touching your mouth, neck or cheeks while you speak isn’t just distracting. In body language speak, it’s a sign of insecurity.

Use examples.

Bless us, we humans only retain about half of what we hear – on a good day.

And we are far better at retaining stories than we are at retaining figures.

Avoid speaking in data and statistics. When you’re making a complex point, use an example or a story to drive it home instead. If the numbers are important, include them in written format – an email or a one-page memo.

Interested in more communication training? Sign up HERE to get my free 3-part video series, How to Increase Your Personal Impact.

Posted Jan 9 2015 @ 2:45pm

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