How to Articulate Better

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Developing and improving your public speaking skills is a sure fire way of improving your personal confidence. On a similar vein, research and experience tells me that people who can demonstrate a grasp of language succeed better in the workplace.

It’s similar to the psychological phenomenon that overweight people are perceived as less intelligent (with no actual basis of evidence behind it.) Becoming more articulate can change how others percieve you to your advantage. I am not saying though that by using language more skillfully *actually* makes you more intelligent or a superstar in the workplace. What I am saying is that other people may perceive you to be!

The basis of good articulation is knowing what words and phrases more succinctly and appropriately get your point across to the listener. Its not about using fashionable buzzwords. Its about precision and empathy. A simple example: You might say “This stock has a really good chance of increasing in value”, or say, “This stock has growth potential”. Which is better? Well, both work in isolation, but it depends who the audience is. The former is more straight forward and less ‘management speak’, although the latter is more succinct.

It’s a matter of using a better mix of words that sum up your point quickly but without confusing folks. In technical conversations, you could argue that jargon fits this description, but it’s true that non-techies may struggle to understand what the words used mean. Good articulation is also about making your language accessible to your audience. The whole point can be lost if you use specialist words that only a small group of you comprehend.

So I may have shown you why good articulation is a benefit to you. But how do you learn it? Well like most things in life, you learn by practice, some trial and error and hopefully feedback. Something I do is if I hear a word that I haven’t comes across before (and I should point out that it’s likely others haven’t too) then I look it up in a dictionary or a thesaurus, so I could use the word’s meaning in a similar context but maybe using a more accessible word. For example, I may hear the word ‘astruse’ used, so I look it up and find out it has the same meaning as ‘puzzling’ – the first less commonly used than the latter so I would likely use ‘puzzling’ if I am conversing with a youngster as they’re more likely to know my meaning.

Good articulation comes, in part, by having a wide vocabulary to draw upon, so what’s better than exposing yourself to a wider vocab than reading a variety of genres of books, magazines, journals, websites? If a word crops up you don’t understand, look it up.

Now this might seem a bit of a language 101, but in business, particularly if coming from a technical viewpoint, good articulation wins over audiences and builds confidence in others. Good articulators climb the career ladder quicker, statistically speaking, and if you’re intent on using your skills in a wider business context then good articulation is a must for you.

Need more proof? Think George W Bush. And then think Barack Obama. Forget the politics: who is most articulate?

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