How to speak clearly so others can understand you: 5 tips
There are people who, no matter how much they like to talk, have trouble making themselves understood when they do.
For many people, the ability to express themselves comes spontaneously and naturally, while for others it is something a little more complex, a task that requires a greater degree of concentration and voluntary control of the speech and the message being conveyed. It is normal, each individual has his or her strengths and imperfections. In this article we will focus precisely on the difficulties in communicating verbally. How to speak clearly and be understood?
Problems of expression in the use of language
Language makes us capable of describing almost any real or imagined phenomenon and that other people are able to understand the meaning of what we say. It sounds normal and ordinary, but in reality it is extraordinary: basically, we are able to transmit very precise information and, in addition, introduce “mental images” or ideas into the mind of the person listening, the interlocutor.
What makes this skill unique is that we can adapt our words, our phrases and our speech in general to the circumstances, taking into account not only the content of what we want to say but also the way in which the context can modify or give meaning to what is said. It can be said that all the spoken or written messages we deliver are unique, because the contexts in which they are created are also unique.
However, this adaptive, dynamic and fluid nature of language also makes it relatively easy to create confusion and misinterpretation.
Tips on speaking clearly and being understood
We all make mistakes when expressing ourselves or interpreting what we read or hear, and these mistakes are, to a certain extent, shared by the sender and the receiver (except in the case of attempts to deceive us, of course).
In any case, there are those who are particularly prone to generate, unintentionally, messages that are difficult to interpret and usually cause incomprehension . The following tips for speaking clearly can help to improve in this aspect, since the use of language is something that can be learned and modified through adequate training.
However, this series of advice is aimed at helping in the psychological and behavioural aspect of education. If the basis of the problem is an organic alteration of the parts of the body responsible for articulating speech, whether they are based on muscles, bones or specific areas of the nervous system (including the brain, of course). In these cases, the best possible solution must be found by the doctor and the guidelines given by the patient.
1. Speak more slowly
This first step is not only advice that will help you to speak more clearly; it will also make it easier for you to follow the other advice . It consists not so much in putting pauses here and there in your speech, but in slowing down your speech in general, that is, it should affect all the words you speak, to some extent. Test yourself at home to make sure you don’t reach a level of slowing that is artificial. Think of consistency as the key. Trying it once or letting too much time pass between sessions won’t do much good.
Think that slowing down your speech doesn’t have to be a bad thing from your listeners’ perspective. There are people who almost always speak relatively slowly and, although in some contexts it may attract a little attention, in others it is even positive, because if it is well used it adds importance to what is said and gives a certain authority.
In any case, this step does not have to mark indefinitely your way of speaking, but as we have already mentioned, it is rather a help to facilitate the familiarization with the rest of the advice.
2. Avoid strange references
Many times, communication problems come about because to express ourselves we use references unknown to the other person . This happens especially when we talk to people who do not belong to our closest social circle or who have a very different cultural background from ours.
The main problem is that in these situations the reference to a book or a film, for example, does not even have to be understood as such. This creates very confusing situations in which the other person doesn’t know exactly what has been said to him, or how to respond, since he lacks clues to interpret our intentions in saying that, or even if we have said what we wanted or have had a confusion of words.
It is therefore advisable to be guided by the information we have about our interlocutor to estimate more or less which cultural areas he or she has more or less knowledge of and, from there, to use references, as we should not give up using this resource in our conversations (as they enrich the dialogues and make them stimulating).
However, in any case, we must pay attention to see, just after using them, if they have been understood or not by the other person’s expression and, if not, clarify what was meant .
3. Check if you project your voice well
In some cases, the problem in expressing oneself has to do simply with speaking too softly, and the rest are hardly heard. This can be for several reasons, but the most common is shyness. Those who are very shy and worry about what other people might think about them, try to “mask” their speech so that possible mistakes go unnoticed … at the price of everything they say going unnoticed.
In this case, it is good both to combine voice projection exercises in front of a mirror, and to work on the more psychological part of shyness, either alone or with the help of psychologists.
4. Practice pronunciation
This advice is both simple and complicated. If you want to speak clearly, you will have to internalize the pattern of muscle movements that leads you to articulate the words well, without mistakes. There is no other way to do this than to practice, but by paying attention to the mistakes and, instead of being ashamed of them, take them as a challenge and repeat what you have said , this time correctly.
Over time, the habit of paying attention to what is said makes it easier to prevent these mistakes before you make them by making sounds that don’t touch or changing words.
5. …or seeks help
If this type of problem becomes very complicated, it is worthwhile to consult speech therapists or professionals trained in the field of this type of training, as each will offer you different guarantees based on their training experience. Choose depending on the type of problem you have detected when expressing yourself : it is not the same to have pronunciation problems as to have relative disorganisation of what is said.