11 Tips on Being More Articulate in Public Speaking

When delivering a speech, how do you ensure the audience understands what you mean while also sounding confident, intelligent and articulate all at the same time? Let’s break it down below.

So, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of somebody who’s articulate?

Is it how they command a stage with an audience made up of thousands of individuals or just somebody who has mastery over how they use language, to help them communicate their message in a way that is both effective and persuasive?

While commanding an audience made up of thousands is no easy feat, it doesn’t really make you more articulate in public speaking.

So, what is being articulate?

Being articulate is simply being able to express your ideas and thoughts to your audience in a way that makes it easier for them to understand what you mean; that is, the points you’re driving at.

11 Tips on becoming more articulate

Below, are a few ways to help you become more articulate when giving a presentation.

1. Listen to yourself speak

Noting how you sound in a normal conversation would help you tremendously in gauging how an audience would feel if they heard you speak.

Pay attention to how you feel; do you feel irritated or pleasant or drowsy and energized, when listening to your voice?

A good way to do this would be to record yourself having normal conversations in order to figure out how you sound.

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Additionally, you can also:

  • Ask your friends or individuals you trust to give you their honest criticism and feedback on how they feel when they listen to you while you carry out a conversation together.
  • Organize your thoughts in a coherent way that makes you sound certain of what you are talking about. This will prevent you from confusing yourself while ensuring you grasp the most important details of your presentation.

In doing so, you would improve how you speak in a way that would make you sound more pleasant but also help give your audience a more positive feeling when you talk to them.

2. Enlarge your vocabulary

This does not mean that you should add difficult words to your vocabulary.

Using difficult words will not only make it seem like you’re trying too hard but will also make it harder for your audience to understand what you mean.

As being articulate is expressing your views in a way that is easily understandable, you need to incorporate into your vocabulary words that help relay to your audience what you mean in the easiest way possible.

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So, instead, try to include more descriptive words into your vocabulary, words that help you express your emotions.

Pro-Tip: A good writer/speaker is one who succeeds in making his audience understand them without the use of difficult words. So, keep in mind; the simpler, the better!

3. Ever heard of the dramatic pause?

Okay, so while we probably won’t be pausing dramatically to wait for a character to resurrect since we are giving a presentation, we will be pausing, regardless.

Pauses play the same role as filler words and do an excellent job of helping you lay emphasis on a point. They can be used before and after any point that you would like to highlight.

Not to say that filler words aren’t okay to use, but they shouldn’t be overused as they make it seem like you are unsure of the direction you would like to take or what you are talking about.

So instead, make use of silence by pausing for a while before carrying on with your presentation. This allows the audience some time to fully understand what you just said before you proceed.

4. Practice improvisation

Learning how to improvise trains you to think on your feet and come up with the right thing to say spontaneously. Why is this important? A speaker who cannot improvise may end up being glued to their notes, and the audience will lose interest in the presentation.

However, a speaker who can improvise tends to be more engaging. For instance, they can weave something that has just happened at the venue into their speech, and this will drive their point home more effectively than the notes they had prepared in advance.

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When you become better at improvising, you are able to tap into the non-verbal cues, such as your facial expressions, since you aren’t preoccupied with sticking to the script that you had prepared.

Note that improvisation isn’t a license for you to go off-topic, so keep any improvisations you make relevant to your topic.

A good way to practice improvisation would be to enroll in an acting class or take a few Improv lessons.

Related: Impromptu Speaking: How to Speak-off-the-Cuff

5. Always try to portray self-assurance and confidence

One thing you should always keep in mind when it comes to public speaking is that the audience sees you through your eyes and not theirs.

An audience is more likely to remember what you say, believe and understand any facts you convey if you give them the impression that you know what you’re talking about and are 100% confident in the information you are relaying.

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A good way to show confidence would be to project your voice. Being audible helps the audience understand what you’re saying without having to struggle to listen to you.

Pro-Tip: If someone who’s 10 feet away from you can’t hear what you’re saying, their interest in what you’re talking about diminishes, which makes it harder for them to understand any points that you are trying to put across.

6. Pay attention to your accentuation and your tone

This simply refers to the pitch of your voice changing.

Accentuation is when you, the speaker, makes some syllables more defined by either putting more emphasis on them or making them more noticeable through your pronunciation.

With regard to tone, ensure that you try not to change your tone as much, as it may convey a different meaning, given that in languages like English, tone is statement specific.

Paying attention to your tone when giving your speech will help the audience understand you better.

7. Vary your sentences, volume and speed

When giving a presentation, using short sentences or at least using both long and short sentences prevents you from droning on, which may bore your audience.

Varying your sentences’ length helps you relay your message more clearly while also making sure that your audience doesn’t get lost trying to keep up with what you’re saying.

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When it comes to your volume and speed, you should slow down when you want your audience to fully understand particular phrases or words that are important to your presentation.

Once you’re sure they’ve understood the point you’re trying to convey, then you can speed up (but not too much!).

It should be noted that volume and speed allow you to become more expressive, depending on the emotion you may be trying to express, i.e.

  • If you are telling a serious or sad story, then you need to lower your volume and slow down your speed
  • When telling an exciting or funny story, you can increase the volume and accelerate your pace of speech

Pro-Tip: If you’re a fast talker, you may want to slow down to prevent the audience from failing to hear parts of your presentation which may be crucial.

8. Focus on the final sound in a word

By fully pronouncing every syllable in a word, you prevent mumbling or trailing off, which may make you inaudible.

Pro-Tip: Pay attention to the final word in each sentence, giving special attention to the final ‘ng’ and ‘t’ sounds in words.

9. Analyze speeches from other speakers

It can be easier for you to identify effective speech patterns by studying other speakers. Why reinvent the wheel?

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To learn from those who have walked the road to seek to travel, you will need to find a podcast, radio show or even a good speech online that you enjoy, then analyze it for any verbal tics or tips that you may find useful.

10. Do you know what a story toolbox is?

This is basically an arsenal made up of interesting stories that you can practice and refine over time.

If you don’t have a funny bone in your body, having a collection of good stories at your fingertips that can re-energize an audience while providing them with a short break is a good option to have when you want to lighten the mood.

11. Get to understand yourself

Understanding exactly why you are not articulate may help you work on the root cause, which may be a fear of being embarrassed, social anxiety or not wanting to be the center of attention.

Overcoming this may give you confidence and peace of mind, which makes it easier for you to be more comfortable when presenting and allows you to express how you truly feel.

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Additional Tips to Sound More Articulate

Here are a few additional tips on how to sound more confident and articulate.

  • Use facial expressions and hand gestures to help highlight any important points in your message.
  • Always engage in slow and controlled movements as this will allow you to put your audience at ease while showing that you are composed.
  • Try to refrain from moving your legs and arms from side to side in a quick jerky manner as it may make some people feel uneasy and can show that you are nervous.
  • Use simple and short declarative sentences as it helps prevent going round in circles, which may confuse your audience.
  • Avoid the use of any unspecific and vague language and instead, try using the correct term when referring to something. This will avoid confusion.
  • Avoid touching your neck or face as it may show dishonesty or a lack of certainty in the message you are trying to relay.
  • Always try to maintain an upright posture by standing straight with your shoulders back. This allows you to fully project your voice while also showing competence and confidence.
  • Avoid slouching.
  • Avoid overthinking. A good way to do this would be to always keep in mind that how you say something is way more important than what you say.

From the above, we can see that there are various ways to make it easy for your audience to understand you. As long as you are being confident, audible and making use of simple language, then you’ll be good to go.