There is a famous quote in Neuro-Linguistic Programming - "The Meaning Of Your Communication is The Response You Get". This means that in a conversation, you think you have chosen the right words and have spoken clearly to the other person but somehow he has actually heard something else. How many of you know what I am talking about?
I am aware of my pattern developed over the years as a trainer. During my initial career as a trainer, I spoke fast when I was nervous. I mumbled when I was in doubt. I used more complicated words or phrases when I was confused. And I made up a long sentence with lots of hidden commas in between when I felt my participants were challenging me. How many of you can relate to all these?
Given that public speaking is a learnable skill, we all can become better trainers if we make a conscious effort to improve our skill. In respect of speech clarity, there are a couple of useful tips I am going to share with you in this article based on my experience. I hope you will apply them if you find them useful to you.
1. Speak slowly and pay attention to your tonality
How would you expect that someone could understand you if you were speaking too fast? To improve speech clarity, the first thing to do is to slow down. I am not suggesting that you speak like a robot. Be yourself and natural.
You should also pay attention to your tonality. If you need your participants to feel excited, speak as if you were excited. If you need your participants to listen to you as the authority, speak as if you were giving them a command. Tonality is important too.
2. Control your breathing
As mentioned above, I used to speak fast because I was nervous. In order to speak slowly, it is important for you to remain calm. In order to remain calm, you must control your breathing.
In this fast-paced world, researches have shown that most of us do not breathe properly. I know it may sound weird to some of you but let's accept this as the fact. Therefore, it is important for us to change this bad habit and relearn how to take a deep breath. This will allow both the top and bottom parts of our lungs to be filled up with oxygen. Whenever you feel nervous, take a deep breath and you will be able to control your speed in delivering your messages.
3. Prepare the script
The reason why I mumbled in the past was that I did not have a clear plan on how to develop and elaborate certain key points in my training. I relied too much on my intuition. As a result, whenever I encountered a mental block, I would start talking to myself.
Nowadays, I will prepare my script in advance. With the script in front of me, I begin to see a real difference in my word pronunciation and voice projection because I know exactly my game plan and I am confident in executing it properly.
4. Simplify word choices
I am not sure whether it has anything to do with my legal training. In my legal studies, I associated with many complicated words and words with more than 3 syllables. This had created a detrimental effect on my initial training career. Instead of using the word "explain", I used "enunciate" or "elaborate". Instead of using the word "hard", I used "complicated". How many of you know what I am talking about?
I have made a conscious effort to use simple words and words with less than 3 syllables. Certainly this helps me a lot in delivering my messages.
5. Pay attention to some commonly confused consonant sounds
Many language experts have written on this topic before. Some common examples include b & p, d & t, g & k, v & f.
From my experience in listening to speakers from Singapore and Hong Kong, there is also a common problem with pronouncing words that start with "th". For instance, speakers from Hong Kong tend to pronounce the word "thank" as "f-ank" while speakers from Singapore tend to pronounce this word as "t-ank". If you are aware that you have such a pattern, you must work hard to undo it so as to improve your speech clarity.
I hope you will find my sharing interesting. Visit my website as I have lots of useful tips to share on public speaking. Please leave your comments on my website as I would love to hear from you too.
After working in the corporate world for 16 years as an international tax lawyer, Jack Wong is now an entrepreneur working from home, allowing him to spend more time with his family. He specialises in coaching his clients to identify their passion in life, and how to make money from home. For more details, check out Jack's Website at http://www.empoweredrangers.com and Personal Blog at http://www.empoweredrangers.net