How to Speak Clearly & Confidently
Good communication skills are not only necessary for succeeding in the workplace. They play an important role in our relationships and social lives as well. Some of us are naturally shy or lack confidence when it comes to speaking in public. This may cause you to speak too fast or stumble over your words. You might even speak in low, muffled tones or with a high-pitched, squeaky voice. When a person communicates in this way, the listener senses the speaker's discomfort and awkwardness. This causes the listener to become uncomfortable. The good news is that many people overcome a lack of confidence and unclear speech with determination and practice.
Set up a tape recorder or digital sound recorder to asses your speech. Record yourself talking about random topics for one to five minutes. Do not read from a book. Pretend as if you are speaking to your boss, an audience or a blind date. When your time is up, rewind your session and listen to yourself. Take notes regarding what you do and do not like about your speaking style. You can also perform this exercise while having a conversation with a friend. Take note of whether you speak too fast. Often our words become muffled and jumbled because we do not take the time to pronounce each word correctly. Turn your recorder back on and speak for another minute. This time, focus on slowing your speech down. Habitually perform this exercise until you find a talking speed that sounds clear and normal.
Grab a dictionary and practice your pronunciation. Turn your recorder back on and read words and definitions from a standard dictionary. Pay particular attention to the pronunciation guides next to each word. Read for about five minutes and play back your recording. Take note of how your focused pronunciation speech sounds differently from your initial recording.
Practice injecting natural pauses into your speech. People sometimes forget that they should pause or take a breath at points in a sentence where a comma would be located or before reading the second part of a compound sentence. Pick up your dictionary or a magazine and read a few lines of text. Pause for a moment whenever you see a comma and before "and" and "or." Record yourself performing this exercise and play back the recording to hear the difference.
The only true way to increase your speaking confidence is by practice and experience. Some people lack confidence when they speak merely because they are uncomfortable drawing attention to themselves. The more times that you are exposed to situations that make you feel awkward, the more adaptable you will become. Eventually, speaking clearly and confidently will come naturally.
Take deep breaths to help maintain calmness. When you are in a situation where you do not feel confident, it causes you to become stressed. This, in turn, causes the muscles in your body to tense up. Your breathing may become restricted and your adrenaline will kick in, causing you to feel shaky and light-headed. Take deep breaths and hold them in for two seconds before exhaling. Attempt to consciously relax the muscles in your body. Maintaining a sense of calm will help you feel more comfortable and confident, even in awkward situations.
Repeat positive affirmations on a daily basis. Telling yourself that you are confident and that you are able to overcome anything holds a tremendous amount of power when it comes to increasing your confidence. Stop thinking about yourself in negative terms. Instead, make a list of your positive attributes and repeat them to yourself every morning in the mirror.
- Maintain an even tone when you speak. Don't try to use long, overly complicated words and sentences. Keep sentences short and simple. Don't be afraid to increase your speaking volume. Don't scream, but speak at an authoritative volume.
Items you will need
- Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images