Best Practices & Breaking Habits

When you are speaking, you probably don’t have time to worry about how you sound. For that reason, you have to practice on a regular basis so that when you speak, you come across clearly, fluidly and articulately. Here are a few key items to remember:

  • Record yourself speaking at least once a week. How do you really sound?
  • Are you finishing your words? Many speakers drop sounds and volume near the end of their statements.
  • Are you comfortable pausing? If you pause often enough and long enough, your audience will not complain about your rate of speech, even if it’s a bit fast, because you are giving them time to process your meaning.
  • Notice what words you use. Are you talking too much to explain your points? Sharpening your vocabulary skills will allow your audience to understand more quickly and allow them to stay engaged longer.
  • Notice what expressions you use. Do you repeat the same expressions over and over again? For example, some people say things like “At the end of the day …” or “Essentially what I mean is …” or “When everything is said and done …” so many times that the words lose value. If you must use an expression like this, do it once, not multiple times in any given speech.
  • Do you make mistakes when you speak? Often non-native speakers use excuses like “English isn’t my first language” or “It was just a small mistake”. While what they say may be true, it doesn’t prevent your audience from judging you. For instance, if you say “How it looks like” instead of “What it looks like,” your audience will notice you made a grammatical mistake. In fact, they may even miss your point or judge you unfairly. Why take the risk? Polish your spoken English so these seemingly minor issues don’t sabotage your success.
  • Do you sound passionate? If you are speaking in a monotone, you may sound tired. If you can’t control your pitch, you may not sound confident. If you are screaming, you may sound overly aggressive. If you are exaggerating too much, you may lose credibility. Make sure you are doing enough with your voice to sound passionate without overdoing it.

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