Speak Smoothly, Clearly & Confidently

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Speaking smoothly, clearly & confidently can make it much easier to communicate ideas accurately. You'll need to slow down your speech, enunciate each syllable, and practice your diction. Take the time to practice speaking, and correct yourself if you mess up.

1. Take a deep breath. 

Calm yourself down before you start speaking, so that your lungs won't run out of air. Distill your thoughts – do not spill them. If you dive into speech without taking time to ground yourself, you may speak more quickly and slur your words. Take the time to center yourself, and proceed mindfully from there.

2. Articulate your words. 

Pronounce each syllable individually. Syll - a - ble. Take it very slowly, at first, until each sound is clear and distinct. Gradually speed up your speech and decrease the space between words until you are speaking normally.

Make sure you actually stop the air for consonants like 't' and 'b'. Differentiate between your vowels.

Don't expect to speak with perfect clarity right away. You may need to practice this for several hours each day, and you may need to practice more to master difficult words.

Practice when you're alone – in the car, or walking down the street; when cleaning, or knitting, or standing in front of the mirror. You can slow down your syllables in conversation, but you may make more progress if you devote some serious time to honing your speech.

3. Speak more slowly. 

It can be incredibly helpful to give your words an extra second or two to fully come out of your mouth. Pausing also works, because pausing allows the person you're speaking to, to digest all of the words you've just said.

4. Practice your grammar. 

If you use poor grammar, your thoughts and ideas may not come across as clearly and confidently as you'd like. Speak as though you're composing an essay or a letter: with patience, poise, and precision.

Avoid speaking in run-on sentences. If you let yourself ramble, your listeners might miss the point. Try to break up your thoughts into comprehensible chunks.

5. Expand your vocabulary. 

One apt word can be much clearer than a flurry of circumlocution. Try to find exactly the word you need – then use it effectively. Be careful not to use words incorrectly or out of context; you may obscure the clarity of what you're trying to say, and you will not be taken seriously.

The caveat: you'll need to make sure that the people you're speaking to also know these words. Keep audience in mind. Use simpler words, when possible.

Reading is a great way to expand vocabulary. Read books, articles, essays; read things that fascinate you, and read things that you wouldn't normally read. Whenever you come across a word that you don't know, look it up.

Try keeping a list of useful, powerful words. The more you use them in context, the more natural it will feel – and the better your word-selection may become.

6. Think before you speak. 

If you prepare your words, you may run less risk of slipping up. Even if you don't plan out the exact words that you're going to say, you can take a moment to think through your ideas and clarify them in your mind.

Silently say the words to yourself before you say them aloud. This might help you ensure that you've gotten the pronunciation right.

7. Speak with inflection. 

Questions should ascend in pitch at the end. Statements should inflect somewhat deeper, with finality. Notice which syllables and words get emphasis. Try exaggerating your inflection, the way you would if you were reading a story to a small child.

8. Practice saying tongue twisters. 

If you work on phrases that are difficult to pronounce, you may find it easier to speak clearly in everyday conversation. Start slowly, and gradually work your way up to a normal pace. Identify problem syllables: if you notice that you have trouble enunciating your "B" sounds, try saying tongue twisters that play on the "B" syllable.

For "B" words, try: Bill had a billboard. Bill also had a board bill. The board bill bored Bill, so Bill sold his billboard and paid his board bill. Then the board bill no longer bored Bill, but though he had no board bill, neither did he have his billboard!

For "D" words, try: Did Doug dig David's garden or did David dig Doug's garden? or Do drop in at the Dewdrop Inn.

For "F" sounds, try: Four furious friends fought for the phone or Five flippant Frenchmen fly from France for fashions.

For "J" sounds, try: James just jostled Jean gently or Jack the jailbird jacked a jeep.

9. Repeat the phrases over and over. 

Start very slowly and clearly, enunciating each syllable: "Five flipp-ant French-men fly from France for fash-ions." Get faster and faster while maintaining clarity. If you trip over words, stop and start again. With determined practice, you may learn to conquer difficult syllables.

10. Be confident in your speech. 

Don't be afraid to speak loudly and clearly. Reciting anything that someone else has written—poems, books, tongue twisters—is great for practicing confidence. Follow through with your words: finish as strong as you start! Be sure of what you intend to say, and the meaning will shine through.

If you tend to mumble or slur your words, it can be difficult to break from the pattern and speak clearly. When you recite words, try to forget about the fact that you are speaking. Focus only on the words, their meaning, their beauty. Try not to overthink it.


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