Speaking effectively is defined as speaking in such a way that your message is clearly heard and, if possible, acted upon. There are two main elements to speaking effectively: what you say, and how you say it.
What you say means your choice of words. The words you might use when chatting to a friend are likely to be quite different from those used in a formal presentation or interview.
Aspects of Effective Speaking
Effective speaking means being able to say what you want to say in such a way that it is heard and acted upon.
Whether you are talking to a major conference about a new scientific discovery, your children about their behaviour, or your boss about a pay rise, you need to be able to speak effectively. This means considering every possible tool and aspect to ensure that nothing distracts or detracts from your message.
Choosing Your Words
What you say—the words you choose—matters.
If in doubt about your meaning, your audience will come back to the words that you used and double-check what you might have meant. It is therefore important to choose carefully, especially when you are saying something important. Things to consider include:
- Your audience. The words you choose will be different if you are talking to 200 people at a conference, a trusted colleague, your boss, or your children. You need to think about your audience’s overall level of understanding of the subject, and also the type of language that you use.
- Shorter sentences are easier to process and understand. Using shorter sentences also creates urgency.
- Simpler words are also easier to understand. If you cannot explain something in simple terms, you have probably not understood it yourself. This is particularly important if your audience are not all native speakers of the language.
Your voice can reveal as much about your personal history as your appearance. The sound of a voice and the content of speech can provide clues to an individual’s emotional state.
For instance, if self-esteem is low, it may be reflected by hesitancy in the voice. A shy person may speak quietly, but someone who is confident in themselves will be more likely to have command of their voice and clarity of speech.
Good breathing is essential for two reasons:
- By using full lung capacity the breath will support the voice and the voice will become richer, fuller and stronger.
This will benefit individuals who have a small voice and who worry that they cannot be heard when speaking to a group of people. Volume is controlled in the abdomen not in the throat, so breathing to full strength will allow for greater control of the voice.
- Breathing deeply and rhythmically has a calming and therapeutic effect as it releases tension and promotes relaxation. People who are relaxed are more balanced, receptive and confident.
It is no coincidence that many religions use rhythmic breathing techniques such as meditation, yoga and silent contemplation, and vocal release in the form of chants, mantras or hymn singing as aids to their devotions. By easing physical tension, mental stress decreases and the mind is effectively freed to follow creative pursuits.