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‹ View all articles9th June 2013

Clarity in Public Speaking: How clarity clearly clears up confusion and clutter

Writing your Content

The C in VOICE is for Clarity.

How clearly do you speak? Is clarity in pubic speaking an issue for you? You might be surprised at the answer. There are times when even the most experienced speakers can fall victim to unintentionally cluttering up their speeches.

Here are four top tips for a clear and clutter-free presentation:

1. Know where you're heading

The biggest clarity mistake that speakers make is to set off into the woods with no map. Have a great journey planned for your audience and your words will automatically have more direction - and more clarity. For a great article on mapping a speech journey, see here

2. Accent(uate).

One barrier to clarity in public speaking could be your diction; the way you pronunce and enunciate your words.

  • Pronunciation is a general term for the way a word is spoken.  If you want to reduce your accent, then change your pronunciation.
  • Enunciation is pronouncing a word clearly. If you want to make make your speech clearer and easier to understand, you might want to enunciate better. When people speak (particularly in  English, but this applies to most languages), they don't pronounce words exactly as they would appear in a dictionary but instead pronounce them in a more relaxed manner. When you enunciate, your speech more closely resembles (or sometimes exaggerates) the 'ideal' pronunciation.

If you need help with pronunciation then perhaps a specialist who can help you train your vocal chords, tongue, and palate might be your solution. Record yourself speaking and play it back... to yourself and others to gain more clarity in public speaking.

3. Watch out for "Um..." the dreaded "filler" word.

Another way to increase clarity in public speaking is to decrease the use of "fillers". Filler words are utilized in general conversations to signal to the recipient that it's NOT yet their turn to speak. Basically to keep the speaking stage in order to finish your intended message. While normal in conversations, you don't need to signal to your audience that it's "your turn to speak". That's why they're there, to hear this amazing message you're presenting. Too many "um's" can cause you to seem less than professional, unprepared, or confused.

Ask friends/peers to listen to you speak. Have them count how many times you say "um". Play the "um game", where you and other participants try to get others to guess a word (on a slip of paper). Your turn is over when you say the actual word on the paper or "um". Exercises like these can increase your awareness and hone your clarity in public speaking.

4. Like, basically, actually avoid saying words almost always that usually don't actually essentially in fact mean very much.  

To gain more clarity in public speaking we need to watch for the words that we repeat often without even realizing. Sometimes certain words ("actually" or "in fact") can reach essentially epidemic proportions. Be aware of the phrases or words that you say often. Ask yourself "Do these words bring value or clutter to my speaking?" Words can bring power or simply be time-fillers. Clarity in public speaking requires that we utilize words of power.

Beware of phrases such as:

  • In other words...
  • Basically...
  • In fact...
  • Actually...
  • To make a long story short...
  • Essentially...

Clarity in public speaking can be achieved by closely looking at the way you speak... how you say it and what you say. Have friends or peers help you identify how often you say "UM" or those certain go-to phrases that probably drive them bats.



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