By Jane Chin
Want to become well-spoken? Here are three tips.
1. Make others feel well-heard
We focus too much on what we should say next, formulating witty responses in our heads instead of giving full presence to the person talking. The art of listening is as important as the art of speaking.
When the other person feels truly “heard,” that person will perceive you are caring about what he or she is saying, and this may make you appear more likable and better spoken.
2. Ask questions you genuinely care about or are curious about
These questions are better than ones you think will make you sound smart or clever. People palpate authenticity from the way a question is used: whether it is a genuine question or just a way to make the asker show cleverness or superiority.
Of course, questions can be genuine AND clever, as long as your questions are truthful to your interest and engagement.
3. Practice the technical aspects of your communication
Slow down if you tend to speak very quickly. (Visual thinkers tend to do this.) Pay attention to the meter or pace of your speech. Match the pace of the conversation, unless you want to deliberately slow down or speed up the pace of conversation to improve the overall level of engagement.
Remember: If you slow down the speed of conversation, you will become the focal point in the conversation; thus slowing down is useful for changing the tone/depth or direction of a conversation.
Lower your voice to a calming pitch, but not to the point of becoming distracting and jarring, i.e. un-natural sounding (as an example, Elizabeth Holmes deliberately lowers her voice to the point of being unnatural for me personally, whatever her rationale may be to cultivate vocal authority).
If your voice tends to be low and you want to appear more approachable and friendly, slightly raise the pitch of your voice; imagine puppies or whatever adorable baby creatures that break your face into a big smile.
Reduce filler words: “um, uh, like, just”. Make friends with pauses in between sentences and learn to be comfortable in short moments of silence. I remember reading a research study that suggests filler words are a way for our brains to scan for the right words, thus I’m not arbitrarily saying that filler words are “bad.” However, using the same line of thinking, reducing filler words suggests you have a good command of the vocabulary you want to best communicate your ideas.
Have something to talk about: pay attention to timely topics and pay attention to what other people are paying attention to. It doesn’t all have to come from “you” — I have few original ideas and even fewer insightful ones — but I can share the insight I have observed or read about from others, and I can be a bridge or connector in a conversation. You may want to start by becoming a connector or bridge in a conversation, versus a “driver” of conversations.