Speaking Effectively to Get Your Message Across

Do you know how you sound to others? Record yourself speaking in different circumstances to learn how you can speak more effectively. Listen for what you say, and how you say it.

When you are nervous, stressed or excited, your voice may go up in pitch and become shrill. If you notice yourself doing this, take a deep breath and relax.

Do you speak too quickly or too slowly? People listen at a certain rate. If you speak faster or slower than they are listening, they will not retain your message as well. Keep regional differences in mind–what seems too fast in the South may not be in New York City.

Fillers are, like, you know, annoying. When you hear yourself using uh, um, like, you know, and other similar fillers, it is usually a stall because your mouth got ahead of your brain. Slow down and concentrate on what you are saying.

Make powerful statements? You will sound uncertain and lack credibility if your voice goes “up” at the end of sentences. To see what I mean, ask a question out loud. Do you hear how your voice goes “up” at the end, in anticipation of an answer? Now, say, “I am an excellent speaker.” Did that also sound like a question? If so, work on making your speech stronger.

Strong speech does not mean vulgar speech. If you frequently pepper your speech with profanity, clean it up. No one will be offended if you don’t swear, but many will be if you do.

Do you interrupt others? Calm down and let them speak. Really listen to them, don’t just wait for them to take a breath so you can jump in.

Modulate your volume. If you speak too quietly, it will be difficult for others to hear you. If you speak too loudly, it can be jarring.

Look at people when you speak to them. It is polite, and makes it easier for them to hear you. This is especially important for those who have a hearing loss, but will help everyone to better understand you.

Watch for verbal cues to see if your message is getting through. Is the person nodding, or do they look confused? Are they fidgeting or looking past you? Those could be signs that they aren’t getting it or they aren’t interested.

Remember that much of your message is delivered non-verbally. Your posture, facial expressions, gestures, even the way you are dressed, all affect how your message is received and interpreted.

Your message is important, so deliver it with importance.