How to Become a More Eloquent Speaker

Not everyone who attends speaker workshops and coaching is aiming to become a TED/TEDx speaker or start a new career in politics. Quite often they just want to be able to speak more eloquently in one-to-one conversations, in meetings and anywhere else where success depends on an ability with words.

Speaking eloquently, finding the right words at the right time, is a skill that anyone can learn and this learning can be boiled down into just three key activities.

Building Passive Language Skills: When your brain is transforming thoughts into words it relies on ideas, words and phrases that you know already. Only very rarely will anyone coin a new expression in real time. To ensure that you have these raw materials handy in your memory you need to read and listen to quality content. Listen to TED and TEDx talks, listen to talk radio, listen to audiobooks, listen to live speakers and attend panel discussions or debates. Don't just listen to people on your side of any argument. There are good speakers on all sides and listening to a broader spectrum of styles is more useful to you than living in an echo chamber. You will also learn many useful ideas, words and expressions through reading, so spend some time reading quality longform journalism. Use downtime in your schedule to read another article from the Atlantic, Aeon, New Yorker and other quality sources.

Develop Active Language Skills: Just having plenty of words, ideas, phrases and structures in your memory doesn't automatically make you a good speaker just like having a piano doesn't make you a pianist. It helps, but you need to practice using these mental resources so that when you need to speak the idea you have in your head is translated into words effortlessly, in real time. There is only one way to practice and that is to speak. Never miss a chance to speak in front of an audience, never miss a chance to have conversations with interesting people and never miss a chance for a complicated conversational opportunity where a group of quick thinkers are all sitting round a table. If your own job doesn't give many speaking opportunities look for non profits where you can volunteer, join the local debating society or maybe get involved in local politics. If you aren't having conversations with people you are not honing your speaking skills.

Prepare for Predictable Surprises: Finally, having both strong passive and active speaking language skills is not the whole story. Those people you see speaking who seem to be able to talk without preparation and always find the perfect comeback in milliseconds are almost certainly preparing. You can and should prepare in advance for unplanned speaking opportunities and conversations. Everyone should be able to present who they are and what they do without any warning. And if you are known to be working on a project you should be able to talk about that without warning, too. Make a list of the things you might be asked to speak about and prepare at least an outline of what you would say. For one-to-one conversations and meetings you can also anticipate conversations and prepare in advance. Scan the news headlines every day because that will suggest topics likely to come up in a general conversation. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you might say about the issues of the day. And monitor the social media "undertalk" to see what the people you are going to meet are likely to talk about. You get valuable clues from social media about what they have read, what they think is important and what they think about them. Be ready to talk about these topics, checking the background with Wikipedia just in case.

Build your passive language skills by listening and reading, develop your active skills by practicing and prepare in advance and your speaking can only become more eloquent.



Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about public speaking and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan on 0046 730 894 475 or speaker@andrewhennigan.com

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