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How to Improve the Way you Speak

How to improve the way you speak

How to improve the way you speak

The way you speak is about what you say and how you say it.

It is an interesting fact that people make many assumptions about your intelligence, ability, potential and social status, based upon the way you speak. Your levels of professional and personal success are strongly affected by those assumptions. Therefore, "the way you speak" is very important.

Here are ten ways to improve the way you speak:

  1. Read aloud to yourself, every day.
  2. Note and memorise any new words.
  3. Speak at a moderate pace.
  4. Speak slightly louder than the average.
  5. Speak using the lower-end of your voice range.
  6. Never swear, or use profane language.
  7. Actively study to expand your vocabulary.
  8. Enunciate! Pronounce your Ts and Ds.
  9. Eliminate any obvious poor speech-habits, such as, "know what I mean?"
  10. Replace them with better options such as, "Thank you very much, I appreciate it."

1. Read aloud to yourself, every day.

By far the best way to improve your speech is to practice reading aloud to yourself, every day for at least half an hour.

Read from text that represents excellence in the use of the English language. Avoid reading modern English, instead read older books, written between 1850 and 1950. Reading texts from this period, will help you develop a richer vocabulary and a more elaborate sentence construction. Avoid using modern texts for your study. Modern writers have simplified their use of English and they often violate the proper rules of grammar. Try reading one of the following:

  • Charles Darwin's "Origin of species"
  • One of Winston Churchill's many books
  • Some classic literature such as Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" or the Brontë sisters
  • HG Wells' "War of the worlds"
  • Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes"
  • Something by Isaac Asimov

By reading aloud every day from these types of books and taking careful note of the vocabulary, your mind will soon pick up new language habits and you will begin to express yourself in a richer, more elaborate way.

2. Note and memorise any new words.

As you read, take note of the words that are unfamiliar to you, and try to memorise them.

For example, this morning, in my half hour reading practice, which was from a history book, I made note of the following words:

  • Bellicose.
  • Cataclysmic.
  • Impunity.
  • Momentous.
  • Unitary.
  • Supremacy.
  • Espouse.
  • Doctrine.
  • Draconian.
  • Phenomenal.
  • Irreconcilable.

This list of eleven unusual words, came from a single half-hour reading session. So, think what you could accomplish in a year of reading.

3. Speak at a moderate pace.

Pace is important. Speak at a moderate pace; one that allows your listener to readily absorb what you are saying, and at a pace that makes you sound more measured, and articulate.

  • Too fast will result in sounding too excitable, a bit light-weight.
  • Too slow will result in sounding a bit boring.

4. Speak slightly louder than the average.

If you speak slightly louder than the average, then you will sound more confident.

This advice does not mean you should become a loud-mouth, but in order to sound more confident, speak slightly louder.

5. Speak using the lower end of your voice range.

If you use the lower end of your voice range, then you will sound more authoritative.

High pitched, shrill voices lack authority and sound juvenile. Use the bass-end of your voice range.

6. Never swear or use profane language.

Make this a cardinal rule: Never to swear or use profane language to anyone.

It is perfectly possible to express any emotion or opinion without recourse to swearing. The more you swear, the worse you sound.

Make it your business to find novel ways to handle your enemies without swearing and by using English of only the finest quality.

7. Actively study to expand your vocabulary.

The more words you know, and are able to use, the smarter you become. The limits of your vocabulary define the limits of your understanding.

Words are the tools of thought. The more words you know, the more concepts you have, and the better equipped you are.

8. Enunciate! Pronounce your Ts and Ds.

Some people know the right words, but they say them badly.

It is important to enunciate properly. Don't become lazy in the way you speak.

Many people make themselves sound stupid by speaking in such a lazy way, that their words become deformed and difficult to understand.

For example, some people cut-off the ends of their words. They drop their Ts and Ds and say things such as, "Wha-d'ya-wan'?'" instead of "What do you want?"

Please, enunciate.

9. Eliminate any obvious bad speech-habits

Speech habits are those short-words and phrases that we say every day, automatically, without thinking.

We all have speech habits, some good, some bad. For example, I have a friend whose speech habit is saying "sort of thing", at the end of sentences, as a kind of meaningless adjunct.

Listen-out for your speech habits and ask yourself whether your speech habits complement your message or detract from it.

10. Replace poor speech habits with better ones.

The English language has an abundance of expressions, sayings, idioms and catch phrases, which you can use to your advantage.

It is fun to study them and use them to enhance both your spoken and written English.

It is especially important to perfect and use polite words and phrases, such as:

  • "Thank you very much, I appreciate it."
  • "After you"
  • "Would you please"

The way you speak has an enormous effect on your chances of success. So, work to improve the way you speak.

Communication Skills Training

Improving your communication skills allows you to better express your message, so that others will understand you, agree with you and will feel inspired. If you want to communicate better, please attend our one-day communication skills course.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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