Whatever you’re doing in your daily life, chances are you have to talk to people. Speaking skills are an often-overlooked aspect of communication today but it’s still incredibly important to be able to communicate your ideas clearly to other people. This is especially true for people who are learning new languages. No doubt, how to speak clearly is on the top of our lists! If you aren’t speaking clearly, it makes it harder for people to understand you and help you learn your target language.
NEWSFLASH: YOU STILL NEED TO TALK
This is also important for people who are learning a new language to communicate in their workplaces. In the workplace, good speaking skills are integral to being understood by your coworkers. In everything from giving a presentation to chatting over the water cooler, you are building relationships with your coworkers through speech. It allows you to form relationships and create better outcomes at work.
These are or go to tips on how to speak clearly:
So how do you speak clearly to another person? Do you need to enunciate more? Speak slower? Or is it more about establishing a connection with the person you are speaking to? The answer is a little complicated, as clear communication is a combination of all of these things. We’ll outline some of the golden rules for clear speech to help you communicate better with those around you.
1. Eye contact is key.
This is true for any kind of conversation you’re having or presentation you have to give. Imagine having a conversation with someone whose eyes are on your shoes. You can’t get anything from their facial expressions and you may even feel like they aren’t focusing on you or don’t want to talk to you at all. Regardless of whether or not this is true, you leave the conversation with a negative perspective. This is true for presenting as well. Be sure to make eye contact with your audience. This allows them to get as much from your body language as they do from your words. This means you’re able to communicate your message effectively, and allow your audience to connect with you.
2. If you’re nervous, focus on friendly faces.
Don’t like public speaking? Or speaking at all? That’s fine, most people don’t. But you know what? Everyone has to do it anyway. Keep this in mind when giving presentations, and find a few faces that are familiar or friendly. This can help you calm yourself down and more importantly, make your presentation a bit more human. Keeping in mind that your audience is full of real, live people can help you to speak more clearly by taking away some of the nerves of presenting. Remember that they all know what it’s like and only want to see you succeed.
3. Don’t be afraid to repeat, repeat, repeat.
Repetition can help you make it clear what your main point is. This does not mean repeating the same sentence over and over again. Rather, it means you should always keep the conversation or presentation centered around the main point you’re trying to make. This makes it clear to the listener what point you’re trying to make and can help keep you focused too.
4. Channel your inner storyteller.
Telling relevant stories is a great way to engage your listeners and drive your point home. Hearing someone drone on and on about their dog’s latest doctor’s visit is boring. Hearing a funny story about your dog running away from the doctor makes listening to you less of a chore and more of a fun activity. Try to liven up conversations with good stories that are short, sweet and to the point. This is also a great tip for presentations, as it helps the audience connect with you as a person, not just as a presenter.
5. Practice first.
If you’re prepping for a big presentation, you should always practice. Practice in front of the mirror. Practice with your cat as the audience. Practice on a friend. Just practice. Practicing not only helps relieve some of the nerves you may have about presenting, it can help you be a better speaker. This is because practice gives you a chance to drill your presentation into your brain beforehand, which makes it easier to avoid rambling when the time comes for the real thing. If you’re presenting in a foreign language, you can even try recording yourself to catch the moments where your pronunciation or grammar may not be the best.
6. Be a copycat
When speaking to new people, don’t be afraid to be a bit of a copycat. Mimicking their tone or expressions can help you get on the same page. It can also help the person you’re talking to feel more comfortable with you, making the conversation easier for both of you.
7. Slow down!
This is especially true for people who are speaking in foreign languages. Take the speed you think you’re supposed to speak at, then cut that in half. Speaking slower than you think you need to can help your audience or conversation partner understand every single word that comes out of your mouth.
8. Stick to the point
Speaking clearly means being understood clearly. This is easier if it’s clear what point you’re trying to make. Make sure not to stray too far from your main objective, especially when presenting. Rambling too much is not only boring for your aduience, it can confuse them about the point you’re trying to make. Be sure to stay clear and concise when speaking.
9. Make yourself known
Be confident! This is the biggest speaking tip in general. If you’re confident and speak strongly, people are more likely to understand and agree with your point. Speaking confidently can also help you to be more confident of things like enunciation, which makes your speech clearer. You should also be aware of the volume of your voice. Speaking loudly and confidently can help you to be understood more clearly than speaking softly and quietly.
10. If you’re speaking a foreign language, practice your pronunciation.
Recording your pronunciation can help you to fix errors that may come up during a presentation or everyday speech. When you’re struggling with a word or phrase, try recording yourself and comparing it with a recording of a native speaker. This can help you identify where you went wrong and how to fix your pronunciation in the future.
Though the world is moving more and more towards technology and written communication, this doesn’t mean the spoken word is dead. In fact, that might be the reason it’s so important. Being able to speak clearly and confidently is a skill that can help to set you apart from others, even if it’s only by video-chat. Remember to engage your audience by telling some stories to keep them involved, keeping eye contact to let them know they’re important, and sticking to your point to keep things on track. These tips and tricks can help you stay engaged when speaking and become a better, more clear communicator.
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