Written by: Dr. Grace Lee, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Even If You Are Introverted, Can’t Find The Right Words, and Don’t Know How to Speak Eloquently
What comes to mind when you think of someone who is articulate? Maybe you picture someone on stage in front of 1,000 or more people. Or someone who's done a TED talk that gets a lot of shares. Or perhaps it's someone who is very eloquent and powerfully persuasive every time they open their mouth to speak.
Being articulate is nothing more than being able to express your ideas and your thoughts in a way that people understand exactly what you're trying to say.
“Eloquent speech is nothing more than accurate communication.” — Dr. Grace Lee
As difficult as it may seem, learning how to articulate your thoughts into words is a gift that you give to others and a meaningful experience that speaks volumes to fulfilling your life purpose – pun intended. Since the beginning of time, humans have always desired to take the complex thoughts that have been developing inside the mind and deliver them to other people.
The deepest intention to do so comes from our human desire for connection, acceptance, and significance.
The problem is our thoughts are often complex as a result of having spend years going through unique life experiences to refine them. So, while the thoughts are clear inside our heads, it’s common to have trouble putting those well-aged thoughts into words.
In this article, I will share with you 7 powerful techniques you can use to articulate your thoughts into words clearly and compellingly.
1. Expand Your Vocabulary
Sometimes it’s a matter of not having the words for it. And you cannot speak that which you do not know.
Being articulate means expressing your thoughts, perspectives, feelings, or ideas in a way that flows from existing inside of you to exist in someone else’s world. If you don’t have a word to convey your thought, it cannot exist in someone else’s world.
Focus on expanding your vocabulary through reading literature that is outside your regular choice of reading material. If you normally read fiction novels, try reading biographies. If you always read books on business and finance, try reading books on psychology and self-help. (I used to read Oxford’s Dictionary of Difficult Words from A to Z – but I’m not necessarily recommending it unless you learn new words through rote memorization like I did!)
When you read, focus on descriptive words, especially words that describe emotions. This will give you more tools in your arsenal to reach for when you’re trying to express yourself, establish connection or build rapport.
This leads nicely into my second technique…
2. Practice Improvising
Learning how to be more expressive will help you convey the meaning and emotions behind what you're trying to say. People connect with emotions, and emotions are more clearly conveyed by how you say the words rather than the exact words you're using.
One of the best ways to elevate your skills of expression is to take an improv class or an acting class. Improv and acting will teach you how to become more expressive in your speech and body language.
Too shy? Start by watching an improv show. Take notes on the thought process of how the actors get their message across through spoken words, movement, and managing their facial expressions. Their messages are tried and true since there have been audiences enjoying their performances consistently. Dedicate some time into studying what works.
3. Lay It Down in Writing First
This technique is especially important if you take a long time to chew on your thoughts or finding the right words to explain what you mean. This is a common challenge for introverts because, by their nature, they process information by inwardly reflecting, chewing on ideas, and analyzing deeply.
If you are reading this and you are an introvert, chances are, you may have felt frustrated trying to locate the right words or anxious in social situations among fast-talking colleagues. Be still and know that your strengths have value.
Your brain stores long-term memories and operates by recalling those memories with cues that trigger the right words.
Permit yourself to take the time your mind needs to unlock the right words from your long-term memory. Let your mind go wherever it goes, and then express yourself in writing first.
Writing uses different neural pathways of the brain compared to speaking. Once you have your thoughts laid down in writing, it will free your bandwidth to focus on the mechanics of speaking instead of having to spend it searching for the right words.
4. Pay Attention to Tone and Accentuation
Tone is a change in pitch in your voice, which changes the meaning. In some languages like Chinese, tone is word specific. You change the tone, and you're saying a completely different word.
For example, the Chinese word for “mom” and “horse” are homonyms. The pronunciation is “ma,” with the key difference being the tone, which conveys the intended meaning:
Mā (steady higher tone) means Mom.
Mǎ (falling then rising tone) means Horse.
In English, tone is statement-based. You change the tone and the meaning of what you're saying changes. We express our emotions and attitude through changes in our intonation.
For example, let’s say we were to answer “yes” to this question without using body language: Do you think they'll hire me? Depending on how we use our tone and vary our pitch when responding “yes,” we can convey sarcasm, certainty, uncertainty, or even pity in our response.
Accentuation is the act of making certain syllables clearly distinct from the other syllables by putting more effort into them, saying them more loudly, or using a higher pitch. When we accentuate a syllable, we make the vowel sound clearer and easy to understand.
For example, let’s take the word “present.” By accentuating different syllables, you can actually change the word from a noun to a verb:
PRES’ent makes it a noun
pre-SENT’ makes it a verb
- Strategically pause before and after the words and phrases you want to emphasize.
- It's better to pause than to use filler words.
- Get used to silence. Not all silence is awkward! Use it as your weapon.
5. Listen to Yourself
Listen to yourself talk and pay attention to how you feel when you hear yourself talk.
Do you feel pleasant or irritated? Do you sound like you know what you’re talking about? Is the complexity of your thought or idea clearly conveyed? There may be a high chance that most people feel the same way when they hear your voice.
Try recording yourself as you're talking in a normal conversation. You might be thinking that you hate the sound of your own voice. Rest assured that our voices sound different to us than to other people simply because when we hear our own voice, we hear it through two ways: 1. through the sound waves hitting our eardrum, and 2. sound transferred through vibrations of our skull from the vocal cords.
Don’t be surprised if your recorded voice sounds higher or different. The sound we hear through skull bone conduction has a lower frequency.
Ask for feedback from people about how you sound when you speak. Ask them to summarize what they have learned and pay attention to see if you have clearly conveyed our thoughts to them. Give them the green light to give you honest feedback without taking it personally.
6. Put A Framework Around It
One of the most powerful ways to articulate complex thoughts clearly is to create a framework for it. A framework is a representation to show the steps, sequences, or processes so that they can get a big picture of where your thoughts are headed.
For example, in this article, I am articulating my thoughts about putting words to thoughts so that you can clearly convey them to listeners. I have created a framework to represent my thoughts on this topic by creating a 7-point process.
During a live presentation, I would create a graphical representation of this process showing all 7 steps. Then my audience will know exactly what they’re going to get.
Not only does a framework allow you to express complex thoughts in a clearly structured way, but it also makes your content unique.
7. Understand Yourself
Gain a solid understanding of the reason for your lack of articulation. Maybe you have some tension and social anxiety that result from your own thoughts and perceptions. Or maybe it's a fear of being the center of attention and embarrassing yourself.
Once you understand the root causes, you can work to overcome them. You’ll start to develop the peace of mind and confidence to articulate your speech carefully in situations that would normally intimidate you.
If you are serious about taking your communication to the next level in your career or business, as a gift to my valuable readers like you, I have created a guide that divulges the top speaker’s success secrets on how to get your message across clearly and confidently on any platform.
Accountability is the multiplier for success. When we set out to make improvements to ourselves and our lives, transformation is key. Information alone doesn’t transform. My coaching program, Awaken to Vocation, is an empowerment program for educated, career-driven professionals who value making a meaningful contribution as much as they value making a good living. It is designed to help you master your professional destiny, elevate your vocational confidence, and dominate your life purpose. Guard your future.
Apply HERE for an opportunity to work with me.
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With gratitude from your #1 fan,
Dr. Grace Lee, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Grace Lee, PhD, is the founder of Mastery Insights, host of Brain to Business and Career Revisionist podcasts, and creator of a practical, business & career channel on YouTube. Dr. Grace is sought after as a speaker and trainer in the areas of sales, business development, career development, public speaking, mindset, and neuroscience. Through her coaching firm, Mastery Insights, she is dedicated to enabling professionals to take their education, expertise, and experiences, and (1) turn it into a passion for profit online, or (2) leverage it to create greater income and impact in a meaningful career path. She has trained hundreds of people from 10+ countries all over the world. Using her expertise from her PhD in neuroscience, Dr. Grace's methods empowers you to discover a different way of thinking to take the guesswork out of what to do next so you can grow fast. For more inspiration and strategies on growth, follow Dr. Grace on LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook.