The importance of good speech: 5 tips to be more articulate

June 9, 2022 - 12 min read

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What does articulation mean?

6 benefits of becoming more articulate

5 tips for improving articulation

Why is good speech so important?

Moving forward

Being able to effectively express your needs, goals, and feelings is a skill that can have a big impact on every part of your life. If you’ve ever struggled to share an idea with your coworkers or convey feelings to your loved ones, you know how important good communication is. 

Getting your point across without articulate speech can be frustrating. Filler words can distract from your point and lead you to try to explain yourself three or four times. Fortunately, you can learn how to speak articulately with a little time and effort.

Becoming more articulate with your words will serve you well in every interaction, from the office to holiday dinner with your family. We’re here to teach you how to be more articulate and tell you about the benefits of being a stronger speaker. 

 

What does articulation mean?

When we define articulateness, we mean someone who uses the right words, at the right pace, so others can understand what they're trying to communicate. That means both that the listener can understand the actual words that they're saying, and that the words represent the meaning in the clearest way possible.

Not sure of the difference? Have you ever listened to a college professor, lawyer, or maybe minister who spoke very clearly — you heard all the words that they were saying — but you had no idea of what they meant? Perhaps there were so many words and their connection wasn't obvious.

People who use big words and many caveats and modifiers might be technically correct, but they won't necessarily be articulate.

To some degree, articulateness is in the ear of the beholder. Think carefully before you start assessing whether someone is articulate or not. Context matters. 

 An articulate speaker is comfortable with their own voice and can speak coherently to the intended audience. 

They can slow their words down when they need to and use proper grammar and pronunciation. Rather than always speaking in the same tone, their speaking skills lead them to enunciate and emphasize differently depending on the topic, setting, and audience. 

That said, did you know that articulation isn't only about our words? Great speakers go beyond what comes from their mouths. Our body language skills also need to be in tune with our words to be most effective. Even though it can be difficult to make eye contact and use the correct hand movements, these nonverbal cues contribute to how articulate we are. 

Syncing your body language and speaking skills can take time. As you set your goals, you can start by identifying your strengths and weaknesses.

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6 benefits of becoming more articulate

There’s a reason why public figures go through media training. Being well-spoken and articulate can bring lots of benefits besides knowing proper grammar. 

Here are six benefits of becoming more articulate. Notice how these benefits aren’t just for your workplace but also your personal life.

  1. Being articulate helps you appear more understanding and competent.
  2. Articulation skills can make you more comfortable in any environment where you have to talk to people.
  3. You’ll find you have greater confidence when you explain your thoughts and stand up for yourself.
  4. Being articulate can help others see you as a leader.
  5. Asking for feedback (or giving it) will be less challenging if you are able to communicate more clearly and succinctly.
  6. You’ll stand out compared to your other friends and colleagues, which can be great for career opportunities.

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5 tips for improving articulation

There are a wide variety of strategies for improving how eloquently you speak. Some people need to focus on getting past a fear of public speaking, while others need to pace themselves better while speaking.

No matter what is blocking you from being articulate with your speech, here are five tips for how to improve articulation.

1. Record yourself speaking

It’s awkward and cringe-worthy to listen to a recording of your own voice. But when you listen back to yourself, you’ll be able to identify your bad habits. Do you only speak in long sentences? Are you using too many filler words? You might find that you need to use pauses, slow it down, or vary your sentence length.

After listening to yourself, you can focus on improving specific areas of your speech. Rather than wasting time improving on things you already do well, you can hone in on exactly what’s giving you trouble. 

2. Think about your final sound

Your final sound is how you finish your sentences and speech. It’s your closer and what you leave your listeners with. To become more articulate, try completing your thought without mumbling or trailing off. 

Think about pitch variation and how you can emphasize certain words to drive home what you’re saying. Begin to think about pronouncing each syllable in your words. This will help you use them properly and ensure that everyone understands what you’re saying.

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3. Be confident in yourself

To be a better speaker, you need to believe in what you’re saying. When we’re confident in ourselves, our words come out more smoothly. Even if you’re asking a question about something that confuses you, make sure to ask it with confidence. 

Sometimes it can be daunting to put yourself out there and speak up. However, it’s better to use your words rather than be confused and regret it later. 

4. Watch how others do it

If you’re looking for inspiring examples of articulation, you have plenty of options to choose from. You can read books to help you study proper grammar. Or you can listen to podcasts and listen to the hosts’ speech patterns. Try to think about how they create their sentences. 

If you’re looking for help with your body language skills and want to see how public figures do it, try watching TEDTalks. Taking time to stop and study examples helps you know what you’re working towards achieving. 

5. Be mindful of your speed

Speaking shouldn’t be a race. When you rush through your words for no reason, you’re more prone to mistakes. That said, you don’t want to speak too slowly and lose your listeners’ attention either. 

Try to identify when it’s important to talk faster versus slower. Speaking faster can show passion and excitement, while speaking slower is often deliberate and serious. Start to make a conscious effort to have an appropriate speed of speech and remember to pace yourself.

A supportive person can be helpful as you strive to become more articulate. For example, a BetterUp coach can remind you that becoming an articulate speaker will help fill your professional and personal life with clear, concise conversations. They can help you stay on track and make a real impact on your personal growth. 

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Why is good speech so important?

Having good speech is important for every aspect of your life. Skills like articulation never go out of style, but they can still be hard to come by. Being articulate can truly make you stand out personally and professionally.

Articulation has endless benefits for your career. For example, speaking well can help you give better presentations at work. It can also help you create more connections with colleagues and clients

Besides helping you professionally, being a great speaker helps your personal life. It can boost your self-esteem and help you better communicate with those around you. 

For example, if you’re talking to someone about how they’ve hurt you emotionally, articulation will help you communicate your sadness, anger, or frustration in a way that is heard. You want to be vulnerable while also taking time to listen to the other person. Being articulate in situations like this will help you resolve conflict, solve problems, and support others.

 

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Moving forward

As you do your best to learn how to be more articulate, remember that you’re harnessing one of your most valuable tools: your own voice. Be proud of how you sound and what you have to say.

Learning to be an articulate speaker isn’t always easy. It’ll take time and some mishaps along the way. Make sure that you appreciate the small wins and use them to empower you to keep getting better. 

Pay special attention to the first time you had a conversation where you made eye contact the entire time, or when you learned a new word and used it well. It’s all a learning curve, but remember that you’re strengthening a skill that will serve you well for the rest of your life. 

Ready to find a coach to help you through this journey? At BetterUp, we have coaches who are communication specialists (they can also help you through the ups and downs of life that sometimes show up in our speech and self-presentation. When you can articulate your thoughts, ideas, and feelings, you'll be that much closer to feeling in control of your own potential.

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Published June 9, 2022

Shonna Waters, PhD

Vice President of Alliance Solutions

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