Speech that Sizzles: How to Color Conversation
No one wants to be thought of as a dull communicator. While some people seem exceptionally gifted with language, others never fail to bore us. We can quickly determine who will hold our interest or who will lose us within the first few minutes of a discussion. As speakers, people are “typecast” based upon whether they are perceived as stimulating or lifeless conversationalists. Keeping that concept in mind, learning the art of better speech can help propel us forward in our social, personal or professional interactions.
Most women want to be more effective at conveying ideas to others and employing a few simple techniques can go a long way to charge up your conversational prowess:
1. Use an upbeat, energetic tone. No one wants to hear you moan about your boss, run through a laundry list of your boyfriend’s inadequacies or gripe about your workload. But people would likely be interested in your vivid description of the movie you saw last night or the trip you plan to take this summer. Not to say that you must refrain from all legitimate complaints, but rather, keep your grumblings rare and focus on the constructive and appealing aspects of your narratives. Listeners like to hear speakers who are interesting and compelling.
2. Stay away from overused words. Try to replace repetitive language with phrases that paint pictures. Instead of saying that something is “weird” (which only conjures up images of space aliens), use words with more specific definitions about the ideas you wish to convey such as “peculiar” or “atypical.” Avoid popular teenage clich€s such as “awesome” or “sweet,” and substitute your responses with words that are more original and expressive such as “remarkable” and “outstanding.” A wide vocabulary is a draw to most people and helps to present a speaker as knowledgeable and credible.
3. Get to the point. There’s nothing more monotonous than listening to someone beat around the bush or give long, insignificant and pointless descriptions. Before you open your mouth to speak, ask yourself what your main point is and then state it using abbreviated details as illustrations. Relaying an account of something that happened is generally more interesting when defined with brevity.
4. Show interest in the person with whom you are speaking. People who only talk about themselves are a turn off to most everyone. Feel free to share about yourself, but be considerate and ask others how they are doing as well. If you can remember a significant detail about the concerns of the person that you’re speaking with, ask about its status: “Did your son enjoy the baseball game you took him to last week?”
5. Don’t be a downer. While it’s valuable to share your opinions with others, watch to be sure that you are not a perpetual pessimist. Some people have a knack for looking at the negative side of every issue and it can put a damper on any discussion. “Downers” are often avoided because people steer clear of negativity and gravitate to those who are encouraging and engaging. Most people don’t deliberately try to be downbeat, and often, pessimists don’t realize that they are such, so be sensitive to your responses and evaluate your attitude. Try to find a positive angle whenever possible; if there isn’t one, at least be realistic and shun the drama.
6. Learn to express your point of view. Those who are socially insecure tend to agree with others’ opinions for fear that their own will be ridiculed. But people like variation in a conversation and most appreciate other ideas and outlooks. Be confident to express yourself; you’ll gain respect and interest by contributing your standpoint on a given topic.
7. Be open-minded. Not everyone will agree with your views every time you disclose them. Avoid narrow-mindedness, be courteous and hear out the perspectives of others, which might differ from your own. You may still hold to your opinions, but it’s important to allow others to express theirs without insisting that you see eye to eye. This is where the old adage to “agree to disagree” is key.
8. Speak about a wide range of topics. Have you ever talked to an accountant who was engaging while she spoke about her work but had nothing to say beyond the subject of accounting? Not that you need an advanced academic degree to be an effective communicator, but try to stay informed about current events and interesting subjects so you can strike up a stimulating dialogue.
9. Get a life. Don’t be too shy to convey your personality and distinctiveness. Determine what makes you unique and courageously present your individuality to others. People enjoy getting to know those who have qualities that are out of the ordinary, and even if you consider yourself an “average Jo-Ann,” you have attributes that make you remarkable. Capitalize on those.
10. Laugh a little! Never underestimate the power of a genuine sense of humor. Of course don’t try to be funny at inappropriate times, and certainly don’t try to be funny if you’re not. But even in the most ominous situations, there is usually an amusing angle, and if you’re gifted with good timing, a little bit of humor can brighten anyone’s day.
Making someone’s day more bright is what leaves an impression on others. The goal of an appealing communicator is to learn to adapt to a given situation and determine how best to deliver information to that specific listener. Communication improves with practice; although some people seem as though they were born as brilliant chatterers, they were not. Those who can engage others in thought-provoking discussions have had plenty of opportunities for trial and error. And if your aim is to be a winning conversationalist, start talking. As you become more aware of your “talk technique,” your discussions will improve and soon you’ll dazzle listeners with your superb speech skills!