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22 Tips to Be More Articulate and Speak More Clearly

Boost your communication skills with these 22 practical tips. Learn to speak clearly, articulate your thoughts effectively, and command any conversation.

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Have you ever tried to make a compelling point in an argument but couldn’t quite express the thoughts in your head? Or had an opportunity to speak to a group but felt like your words were jumbled and mumbly? 

The ability to express ourselves clearly and effectively is fundamental in today’s fast-paced, communication-driven world. And in this guide, we’ll help you become more articulate and clear in your speech.

What Does It Mean to Be Articulate?

To be articulate means that you can clearly, effectively, and coherently express your thoughts and feelings.

The two main components of articulateness are:

  • Clarity refers to the ability to express thoughts and ideas concisely and clearly-structured while picking just the right words. When you speak clearly, you are able to translate your inner world to another person in a way they fully understand. They can straightforwardly grasp what you are trying to say without ambiguity or confusion. The opposite here might be a word salad.
  • Delivery refers to how clear and comprehensible a person’s voice and body language is. This is when you enunciate your words with punchy clarity and when you use your hands, posture, and the emotional tone of your voice to support what you are sharing. As an example to avoid, think of mumble rap.

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Benefits of Being More Articulate

When you start to develop your articulateness, you don’t just talk or write—you connect, influence, and inspire. 

Imagine being able to clearly voice your ideas during a critical work meeting or confidently tell a captivating story at a social gathering. Maybe even persuade your friends to join you on that adventurous hiking trip. Developing articulate speaking patterns is a game-changer for your social connections.

Here are some of the specific benefits of improving your articulation skills.

  • Increased understanding: being articulate allows you to express your thoughts and ideas clearly, reducing misunderstandings and promoting effective communication.
  • Improved confidence: when you can express yourself effectively, it boosts your self-confidence, helping you feel more comfortable in a variety of situations.
  • Improved professional success: in the professional world, being articulate can help you present ideas convincingly, leading to recognition, respect, and potential career advancement.
  • Stronger relationships: clear communication, a product of being articulate, enables more meaningful and authentic conversations, which can ultimately strengthen your relationships
  • Influence and leadership: articulate individuals are often perceived as leaders because they can convey their vision and ideas convincingly, influencing others and driving change.

Whether you’re gearing up for a big presentation, striving to make a difference in your community, or simply seeking deeper conversations over coffee, becoming more articulate will open new opportunities.

22 Tips to Be More Articulate

Improve your vocabulary

A robust vocabulary gives you a rich palette of words to precisely express thoughts, emotions, and ideas. The more words you know, the more colors you have to paint with. 

A strong vocabulary allows you to convey complex concepts succinctly and convincingly while improving your credibility.

Remember though, a good vocabulary isn’t just about knowing many words; it’s about using the right word in the right situation. Try some of these tips to develop your vocabulary:

  1. Read with a dictionary in hand. Whenever you read a book or blog post, try reading with a physical dictionary. Look up every word you don’t know. You’ll quickly notice just how many words you don’t know (there are about 300,000 words in the English language, after all!), and over time, new words will start to sink in.
  2. Watch a video in Latin. So much of the English language comes from Latin. If you brush up on Latin—even just a video or two—you’ll quickly notice how often Latin roots appear in words. When you encounter a new word, you might spot a Latin root that you can connect to the word instead of a random sound to memorize. For example, the word licentious means “morally unrestrained” and actually derives from the Latin root licentia, meaning “freedom, liberty.” This root also appears in “license,” which is something you obtain that gives you the permission or freedom to do something (e.g., drive a car)—knowing that makes the word much easier to grasp.

3. Use a word of the day. The New York Times is one great resource for your dose of daily diction. When you learn a new word, use it at least five times daily to let it sink in. Word-of-the-day apps can be notoriously hard to stick to. So it might be most effective to commit to learning a word a day for a set amount of time, whether that’s one day or seven days in a row.

Present your ideas clearly

If every time you talk, it comes out like a jumbled ball of spaghetti; it can make it challenging for others to understand what you’re trying to convey.

One way to increase your speaking cogency is to practice writing.

While journaling is an effective practice to open your creative spigot and examine yourself, writing an actual essay (or blog post) forces you to think carefully about which words you choose, the order of your arguments, and how to convey complex thoughts.

Try out this activity.

4. Write a 150-word essay. Try creating a short but compelling argument for any of the following topics:

a) What is the best meal of the day, and why?

b) Who is the most talented musician, and why?

c) If you could re-write the rules of society, what would be the three most important social norms you’d implement and why?

It should take about 10 minutes to write 150 words. But if you want to practice your articulation skills more deeply, try a 500-word essay.

Ditch the filler words

We all rely on filler words and sounds when speaking. Usually, if we’re searching for something to say, we’ll fill the silence with “ums” or “likes.”

And even though it’s commonplace to use these filler words, they can make you come off as unsure or nervous.

It’s tough to stop using filler words, but here’s one way to practice.

5. Record yourself for 3 minutes. Try reflecting on the prompt, “What was 2017 like for you?” Once you finish, listen back to the recording, and notice every time you said “um,” “uh,” “like,” or something similar. 

Do as many reps as you’d like to try to improve!

Enunciate crisply

To speak articulately, it helps to pronounce each word with sharp clarity. And it helps to say each word as its own, not bleeding into the next one.

Here’s one great practice for enunciation borrowed from the freestyle rap community.

6. Read backward. Pick up a book and read a paragraph backward. Try it at different paces. This activity is helpful because you won’t habitually slur one word into the next when the word order doesn’t make sense.

Speak at the right pace

If you talk too fast, people might lose track of what you’re saying, or your words may blend together. When you slow down your pace, you can focus on saying each word clearly. It’s a difficult habit to build, but a slower speaking pace will also ensure that your conversational partner will absorb all of what you are saying. Here are a few tips.

7. 50% Speed with a partner. Grab a friend for this practice. Simply set a three-minute timer, and tell your friend how your day is going. But try to talk at 50% of your normal pace when you’re sharing.

Here are a few more tips to help fast-talkers slow down.

But don’t go too slow! Researchers at The University of Michigan1 found that the most persuasive speaking pace to convince people to participate in phone studies is 3.5 words per second or 210 words per minute.

If you’re a slow talker and want to speed up, then try the inverse of the activity above.

8. 2x Speed with a partner. Grab a friend for this practice. Simply set a three-minute timer, and tell your friend how your day is going. But when you’re sharing, try to talk at two times your normal pace.

And to either slow down or speed up your pace, you can try this:

9. Read a page. Pick up a book and read a page as clearly as possible—either slower or faster than your normal pace, depending on what you are practicing.

Hit pause

Barack Obama is known for giving some epic pauses in his speeches. He’ll leave an audience hanging on his every word. Silence creates tension and anticipation. 

Pausing can make you more articulate by giving you time to gather your thoughts and share clearly, while also adding an extra oomph of emphasis to your message.

As a bonus, pausing also communicates confidence. If you’re feeling insecure, you might avoid pausing because you’re afraid that if you pause, someone in the group will lose interest and steal the microphone from you. 

Practicing pausing is a way to practice conversational confidence. Pausing is like wearing a leather jacket—a leather jacket is a bold outfit choice, so donning one forces your confidence to meet the garment. And if you try pausing in your speech, it might similarly bring forth your confidence.

Let’s take a page out of Barack’s book.

10. Practice pausing in a voice memo. Try texting a voice memo to a friend—either about a relevant topic or just that you’re thinking of them. But when you record this voice memo, see if you can insert at least one two-second pause. If you’re not used to it, pausing might feel scary. But just remember that if it works for Obama, it can work for you too.

Find the right pitch

Pitch is the tone of your voice. It can be high, medium, or low. Studies suggest that when your pitch is lower2, people will see you as more of a leader.

That said, some research finds that females with higher-pitched voices3 tend to seem more attractive.

What you do with your voice pitch is up to you, but if you choose to go higher or lower, you can bring intention to it.

11. Find your maximum resonance point. We all have a natural range of pitches that our voice can hit, and when we speak in a certain part of our range, it comes off as most comfortable. Check out this article to learn how to find your maximum resonance point.

12. Deepen your range with neck stretches. If you do want to deepen your voice, there are ways to do so. According to the vocal training center My Voice Exercises, neck exercises can deepen the voice by “reducing tensions that are placed on your vocal cords.” Here’s one stretch they advise:

  • Slowly rotate your head to the left. Attempt to position your chin above your shoulder.
  • Hold for 10 seconds. 
  • You can deepen the stretch if you put your left hand on the right side of your jaw and offer gentle pressure
  • Relax and repeat the stretch on the right side.

Bolster your speech with your hands

If you want to get your point across clearly, using your body language4 can help people understand you.

The best body language will match what you’re saying and will communicate subconsciously to the other person so that they more easily understand your point. Here are a few body language gestures to try:

13. Emphasize big points. If you’re saying something important and you want to emphasize its significance, try this tip from Columbia University5,be%20locked%20onto%20someone%20else’s.&text=Plant%20your%20feet%20shoulder%20width,shifting%20from%20side%20to%20side.. Put your hands in front of your face as if you’re holding a large ball, and gesture symmetrically.

14. Speak from the heart. If you want to convey anything emotional or sentimental, simply put your hand over or near your chest.

15. Use your hands to track. If you are comparing two categories, you can use each hand to represent each category. This helps the other person keep track of the associations you’ll build about each category.

Here’s a great video resource for even more tips about how you can use your hands.

Do a vocal warmup

Warming up your speaking muscles is a great way to get your throat, tongue, and mouth lose and ready for talking.

Acting classes typically teach vocal warmups6 And it makes sense—athletes warm up before competing, and actors warm up before speaking. If you have an important meeting or conversation where you want to bring your full articulateness, try a warmup exercise. 

16. Untwist that tongue. Tongue twisters are classic vocal warmups. They train your mouth7 to ensure it clearly spits out the correct sounds. Here are three to try offered by Masterclass. Recite each phrase enough times until you can say it flawlessly.

  • Friday’s Five Fresh Fish Specials
  • High roller, low roller, lower roller
  • I need a box of biscuits, a box of mixed biscuits, and a biscuit mixer.

If you want to go deeper into vocal warmups, check out this video.

Keep refining

The best way to practice is to record yourself speaking in different contexts.

You might take on different speech patterns when you’re speaking into your voice memos app versus when you’re with your boss or in front of a crowd. One of the best ways to improve at anything is through good feedback.

17. Record yourself in different contexts. Whether on Zoom calls, phone calls, presentations, or whatever. If you want to become more articulate, it’s invaluable to hear your speaking patterns—pace, pitch, filler words—so that you can make adjustments. When you listen to a recording, note how you could improve, and then practice that next time.

How To Overcome Nervousness

When you’re nervous, you might forget what you want to say, talk too fast, fidget, take shallow breaths, or generally jumble up whatever you’re trying to say.

Besides writing, I also help make YouTube videos. I was on a call recently with my manager Ben and was feeling quite nervous. And as we closed the call, I said, “Alright! Bee you later, Sen!” 

We both took it in stride, but I was nervous, and it was not my most articulate moment!

The best way to overcome the hurdle of nervousness is through the most classic technique in the book. Breathing.

​​Lucille Schutmaat-Rubin, Ph.D., is a voice and speech coach who offers a powerful step-by-step process8 to calm yourself for speaking. Her process is as follows:

18. Breathing technique to calm nerves before speaking

  • Breathe in through your mouth
  • Relax the back of your tongue while inhaling to create silent breaths
  • Follow the breath into your belly
  • Put your hands above and below your navel to feel your breath in your belly
  • Vocalize an “AH” on the next few exhales
  • Keep up smooth exhaling “AHs” until your throat and belly start to relax
  • On your exhale, speak the number 1. Then 1 2. Then 1 2 3. Up to 10. Add one number at a time
  • Let your breath’s pace dictate your pace of speech

Places to Practice Your Speaking

As with any skill, you can practice by yourself, but it’s tremendously helpful to practice with a group. 

Here are a few resources you can explore to take your articulateness to the next level.

19. Toastmasters. Toastmasters is an international organization that helps people train in public speaking. There are tons of clubs in every major city. Each club has its own culture, but essentially you’ll meet with a group of people for an hour or two and have a chance to practice both written and spontaneous speeches in front of a group. People will give you feedback on everything from your filler words to your pacing to help you improve.

20. Standup comedy. Another place to practice the art of speaking is standup. Lots of cities have standup classes you can take, where over several weeks, you’ll write bits and perform them in front of your classmates, eventually building up to a performance in front of strangers.

21. Coursera. If you’d like to jump into a deep dive, the University of Washington offers courses on public speaking for free on Coursera. The course promises to help you “diminish your public speaking anxiety” and “leverage rehearsal methods to develop a robust, engaging speaking voice.” 

22. Virtual reality. There are VR programs that give you the experience of talking to a boardroom. If you want to practice your speech in a deliberate format while sparking any public-speech butterflies, try the program Ovation. Can you feel your palms get sweaty just by looking at the image below?

An image from a virtual reality game of a bunch of people sitting around a board room table looking directly at you. It's called ovation, and it can help you get better at speaking in front of a board room and develop the skills to become a more articulate speaker.


Frequently Asked Questions About How to Be More Articulate

How do I train myself to be more articulate?

To train yourself to be more articulate, the best thing you can do is practice with feedback. That might mean recording yourself or going to a group like Toastmasters. When you listen to recordings of yourself, look for areas where you speak too fast, mumble, or say “like” a lot.

Why can’t I articulate what I want to say?

You might not be able to articulate what you want to say if it’s a complex idea that you don’t quite understand fully yourself. Often something makes sense in our head, but when we try to explain it, it comes out like gobbledygook. In this case, it can be effective to turn to writing. Try to get your thoughts out on paper in a way that feels complete and makes sense. Then you’ll be able to explain these ideas more readily in conversation. 

Why do I have a hard time articulating my feelings?

You might struggle to articulate your feelings because you lack the proper emotional vocabulary. Gaining emotional clarity of your inner landscape is a notoriously long and challenging journey. To better articulate your feelings, it can help to have more nuanced language for everything you feel. Check out this article, which goes over the feelings wheel, to learn to describe your feelings more accurately.

How can I learn vocabulary fast and effectively?

Three ways to improve your vocabulary are to read with a dictionary in hand so that you can build your word knowledge as you read, to study some basic Latin so that you can more recognize and pick up new words based on their roots, and to practice a word of the day so that you can proactively add more words to your knowledge base.

Takeaways On Becoming Articulate

With all of these tips, you should be on your way to becoming a more articulate speaker. The most important thing is that you practice! If you want to improve your speaking skills, then doing so will take time and effort–and it won’t happen overnight. Just try any of the following:

  • Improve your vocabulary. Read with a dictionary, study basic Latin, or try a word of the day to expand your verbal knowledge.
  • Present your ideas clearly. Try writing a short essay to improve your clarity on how you present ideas. What’s the best meal of the day and why?
  • Ditch filler words. Record yourself giving a speech and find all those “likes” and “ums.”
  • Enunciate crisply by reading a paragraph backward.
  • Speak at the right pace. If you’re a fast talker, ask a friend to listen to you for three minutes while you talk slowly. Slow talkers do the reverse.
  • Hit pause. In your next conversation, try increasing your use of pauses…more than you’re used to.
  • Find the right pitch. Record your highest and lowest pitches, and stay in the second to the bottom quarter of your pitch variation.
  • Use your hands. Consciously try to match your hand gestures with your talking points.
  • Do a vocal warmup—Friday’s Five Fresh Fish Specials.
  • Keep refining. Record yourself in as many different speaking contexts as possible, and learn your habits in each situation.
  • Overcome nerves before speaking by taking deep breaths, relaxing your throat, and making sounds on your exhale.
  • Practice with a group at Toastmasters, a standup comedy class, or a public speaking course.

If you want to go even deeper into mastering your speech, check this article out to learn to speak more confidently.

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