Join Jeff Ansell for an in-depth discussion in this video Making every word count, part of Communicating with Confidence.
- We use words to reach out and connect to others. To make every word count you need to choose your words carefully, and express them meaningfully, and enunciate them clearly. So let me start off with a question, how many words do you think left your lips yesterday? Take a guess. 1,000, 2,000. Although researchers disagree about precise numbers, the Journal of Neuroscience reports that women use on average 20,000 words a day, while men on average use 7,000 words a day.
How many of those words that left your lips yesterday showed you to be a confident communicator? How many of those words that left your lips yesterday maybe even truly made a difference to those around you, a positive difference? And how many of those words served little or no purpose at all? We need to choose our words carefully. There are many, like me, who believe that once words are introduced into the universe they don't go away. Just think of something nice that someone said to you years ago.
You can almost relive the moment. Think back to when you were younger and someone said something insensitive to you or in front of you. Years can pass, yet what those people said long ago, positive or negative, is memorable. So we need to make every word count by choosing our words carefully. I mean, after all if a word isn't important why are you using it? We need to express our words meaningfully by making every sentence sound different. You know, we do that already during everyday conversation.
We make our voices more interesting, especially if we're telling a good story. Yet when people have to communicate information to others in a group, a meeting, or a presentation they slip into a monotone. Because your voice reveals so much about your attitudes and emotions use it to the fullest by changing pace, volume, and inflection. Think of the way you tell a story to engage listeners, you use your voice expressively. When we're connected to what we say, dynamically, naturally, inflection kicks in and takes care of that for us.
If we are not connected to what we say we can still sound it by taking the mechanical approach. By finding at least one word in every sentence worthy of emphasis. You can emphasis any word. You can emphasis any word. You can emphasis any word. You can emphasis any word. You can emphasis any word. It's unlikely people in the audience will say, "Oh, Elizabeth just emphasized the wrong word." Along with expressing words meaningfully we need to enunciate every single word.
Now that could be a challenge for people, especially those who speak quickly, because when we speak quickly one word easily blurs into the next and syllables get lost. Mumble mouth happens to the best of us. When I was on TV and radio I used to do an exercise before I went on air. It's an exercise designed to limber up the lips and get the mouth moving. Here's how it goes. Have something to read in front of you, then take a pen or pencil, place it between your teeth, and gently clamp down.
Don't bite the pen, just ensure it won't fall out of your mouth. Then start reading with a pen between your lips doing your best to enunciate each and every word. Do this for about 60 seconds or so, really putting your lip and face muscles to work. Then, at the end of the minute, take the pen out of your mouth and start reading again. You'll notice how much better you'll be enunciating. Try this exercise once a day, it can work wonders for you.
Choosing our words carefully, expressing them meaningfully, and enunciating them clearly is how we make our words count.
- Organizing your thoughts
- Speaking slowly, naturally, and confidently
- Breathing properly
- Using your body to reinforce speech
- Managing facial expressions
- Handling nervousness
- Integrating voice modulation, eye contact, and hand gestures into a powerful and engaging communication style