Professional Empowerment: 8 Keys Improve Your Speech

With your conversational dialogue, practice makes perfect. It makes no difference if you are a marketer, salesperson, engineer, accountant or public speaker, it is important that you are self-aware of how you present yourself to others through your speech.

Improving the quality of your speech in conversation benefits both your listener and you; making what you say be more memorable, impactful and matter to the listener.

Here are eight keys to improve the art of speaking with others:

 

1. “Ah and Um”

In interpersonal communication, this insecure “filler” word will discredit you and what you are saying in much the same way your body language can send the wrong message.

Instead:

Remove it completely from your vocabulary. Have your close friends and colleagues call you out when you use it. Practice being comfortable with silent pauses, between thoughts and sentences, and practice using pauses in thoughts for clearer transitions. Use silent pauses on key points that are repeated for greater impact.


2. “Again”

This communicates a passive aggressive position based upon impatience on having to repeat a position or point.

Instead:

Close with positive energy by summarizing the key points, seeking clarification on what others communicated and asking for questions on what you communicated.

“Let me recap our conversation and take-a-ways: [key take-a-ways].”

“This was a great meeting because we covered: [key points].”

“Thanks for taking the time to cover: [insert meeting agenda]


3. “To be honest”

This communicates the opposite of your intent.

Instead:

Simply, directly and humbly state your professional and personal thoughts.

“Here are my thoughts/comments.”

“Here’s one area of concern I have with that.”

“I have a different view on that and I like to know your thoughts.”


4. “I see”

This communicates hesitation and passive aggressive resistance in response to something said by another person.

Instead:

By actively listening you can provide an appropriate response based upon your involvement in the conversation. Reiterate what was communicated in your own words to verify there’s cadence.

 

5. “That’s not a bad idea”

That phrase is a double negative and should be restated: “That is a good idea!” so say that!


6. “I am not sure”

This communicates insecurity in addition to uncertainty.

Instead:

“I do not know, but I can find out.”


7. “Ok”

Avoid using this word to acknowledge understanding when someone is communicating.

Instead:

Responding through active listening. Understand the speakers intent and message and respond accordingly.

“Yes” for acknowledgement, “that makes sense” for a proposed recommendation, “I agree” if you agree with the speaker’s position, asking a question in response to a statement, etc.

 

7. Vocal Fry

Vocal fry is guttural speech fade out that occurs at the end of a sentence. Some individuals have more of a tendency to commit vocal fry.
How do you know you have it? Record yourself and listen for a downturn in your speech’s volume and clarity at the end of the sentence.

How do you cure it?  Emphasize the closing word of the sentence as strongly as the first word. Clearly “punch” the last word. If you can’t self-cure, try a speech coach or take a voice and diction class.

 

8. Silence

What you don’t say can be as impactful as what you do say. Psychology studies indicate that listeners are more attentive and engaged to another person within the first 20 seconds. Listeners are fully engaged within the first five to 10 seconds, 10 to 20 seconds they are passively engaged, after 20 seconds you start to lose them and after 30 seconds they are disengaged.


Incorporating these eight keys to improve your speech will help you better truly engage with your listener, create a quality conversation and leave lasting memorable interaction with other individuals.

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