This question originally appeared on Quora, the best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.
Answer by Tim Enalls, founder of IdeaGenius.com:
Pay attention to the following variables in your speech habits and rate them all on a scale from one to 10. Place the most focus on the areas you’re strongest at and the areas where you’re weakest.
Pitch variation: Vary the high and low frequencies of your voice to keep listeners engaged and interested in what you’re saying.
Voice projection: You should be capable of talking with enough intensity so that anyone who’s 15-20 feet away can clearly understand you. Practice talking at this intensity so that people can clearly understand you and follow what you’re saying, thereby drawing favorable attention to yourself.
Use of pauses: Strategically pause before and after the words and phrases you want to emphasize.
Sentence length variation: Follow long sentences after short sentences and vice versa. If you say three or more long sentences in tandem, you may lose people due to the overload of information.
Determine how the sound of your voice makes you feel and make improvements: Listen to yourself talk in a recording, and pay attention to how you feel when you hear yourself talk. Do you feel positive or negative? Pleasant or irritated? Energizing or sleep-inducing? There may be a high chance that most people feel the same way when they hear your voice. Can you adjust the general tonality to something more pleasing and stick to that?
Speed variation: Slow down your rate of speech when you want to emphasize certain words and phrases. Give people a chance to understand and follow what you’re saying. Speed up your speech when you know they already understand the concept you’re talking about.
Portray confidence and self-assurance: Give people the impression that you’re 100 percent sure of yourself, you’re an authority in the subject matter you’re talking about, and you believe wholeheartedly in what you’re saying. Many people are disproportionately attracted to this quality even if it’s specious. The impression of doubt and self-restraint tend to repel many people even when that’s grounded on reasonable premises.
Vocabulary usage: In most cases, speak at roughly the same vocabulary level as your audience. Also, don’t bring up concepts that are too far outside their perceptive experience and the context of the situation.
Talk with a harmonious rhythm: Make your phrases and sentences harmonize with each other like notes on a music sheet. Time your high, low, long, and short pitches with each other succinctly and you’ll have a natural flow to your speech that is pleasing to the ear.
Here are additional tips to improve your overall articulation:
Imitate the most articulate celebrities and public figures. Do your best impressions of highly articulate and successful talk show hosts, news anchors, radio hosts, actors, voice actors, etc. This is a great way to invoke benchmarks that you can use as comparisons to your own voice habits and articulation level.
Practice sentences and paragraphs with audio recorders. Use audio editors such as Audacity and repeat certain sentences and paragraphs until they sound pleasant to you. Practice 15 to 30 minutes a day until your general speech habits improve. Place emphasis on words, sentences, and paragraphs that are most difficult for you to articulate.
Visualize yourself speaking well on national television and in front of large crowds. Believe it or not, your unsatisfactory speaking habits and articulation may be rooted in the fear of being the center of attention and embarrassing yourself. Your lack of articulation could result from tension and a certain level of social anxiety that result from your own thoughts and perceptions. Picture yourself talking in situations that you think are well out of your league and you’ll start to develop the peace of mind and confidence to articulate your speech carefully in situations that would normally intimidate you.
How can I become more articulate in my everyday speech? originally appeared on Quora. More questions on Quora: