Wow! What a momentous Platinum Jubilee weekend we’ve just had! I thoroughly enjoyed watching all the events on TV. The Brits really know how to put on a show! I was glued to the TV and Royal watching. I paid particular attention to how they conducted themselves, the way they look and the way they speak. ALWAYS so elegant and eloquent, no matter which angle you see them. This has inspired me to write a post about how to speak more eloquently, and sound more elegant and Ladylike. So we are going to take a pause on the Seychelles series this week.
London came to live with hundreds of Union Jack flags adorning the famous streets and landmarks. Tens of thousands of people crowded in front of Buckingham Palace and at the Mall, hoping to get a glimpse of the Queen and the Royal Family.
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Here I was wearing a white linen shirt from H&M, an old skirt See by Chloe, similar here and here, both 30% off right now! I completed this look with an oversized (the husband’s) denim jacket, similar here, and my Loewe hammock bag (sold out, but similar finishing here). I love this look. So effortlessly chic and comfortable.
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I am (shamelessly) obsessed with the Queen AND the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. In my mind, they are the epitome of our modern-day Lady. Kate is literally my current Ladylike inspiration! She always looks perfect. Elegant, gracious and poise! However, being elegant is not just about our physical conduct and how we look. The way we sound when we speak is equally critical. Needless to say, I love listening to the Queen speak or Kate Middleton, they always sound so eloquent and gracious. Especially in their posh British accent. I loooooooooove!!
Anyway, I’ve digressed. Let’s get right into it…
So what does it mean to speak eloquently?
The dictionary meaning of eloquent is “well expressed and effective in persuading people. A person who is eloquent is “good at speaking and able to persuade people” [Source: Collins dictionary]. In other words, people listen when you speak. Your message is well crafted, articulated and tells a good story. The delivery is elegant, sophisticated and memorable.
This topic is very close to my heart. We moved to Australia when I was a young girl without speaking a word of English! So speaking properly and articulating my thoughts is something I struggled with growing up. Further, I was bullied and laughed at at school because I wasn’t pronouncing a word properly or completely misusing a word or the wrong grammar. Which destroyed my confidence in speaking, full stop! I was that girl who slides down in her chair as much as she could and avoid eye contact when the teacher asks a question.
I got used to avoiding talking and expressing myself. And when I did speak, I was either too soft, too short or too blunt. My speeches lacked context. Which couldn’t be further from speaking eloquently. I remember in the early days of my career, a colleague repeated my idea a few minutes after me, and the boss thought it was genius, but it completely bypassed him when I said it. How frustrating right?! And as you can imagine, this started to impact my career progression.
So I made it my mission to learn how to speak more eloquently and sound more elegant. I’ve spent over a decade learning about public speaking and the art of sounding eloquent. And now, I spend about 80% of my work days influencing stakeholders and bringing my solutions to life through storytelling.
I’m not telling you this to brag, but I want you to know that speaking eloquently is not something you’re born with. It is an art and a skill one needs to learn, develop and refine. And like all skills, you need to dedicate time to consistently practising them if you want to master this powerful art.
If like you’re like the old me and feel no one listens when you speak, then it is not all lost. You can just need the below techniques and practice, practice and practice. If I can do it, so can you! Trust me on this one!
Mastering the art of eloquent speaking will significantly increase your SELF-CONFIDENCE
You may think this is a catch-22. How can you speak confidently if you are not eloquent? And how can you speak eloquently if you are not confident in what you are saying? However, as we discussed in our earlier elegant transformation post, we know our physical appearance says a lot about our aura. Many studies have stated that c55% of our communication is through our body language. So before we even open our mouths, people are already judging us by the way we look. Is this person important? Do I need to pay attention to what he/she has to say?
Therefore, before we get into the “how to speak eloquently” guide, here are a few things you can tweak to become more confident and feel more confident. So that people listen when you speak.
Some may say, fake it till you make it. But I prefer to think of it as cultivating daily elegant habits to increase self-confidence. Yes, you guessed it. Your body language and physical posture!
- Adopt the power stand by planting both feet with equal weights on the ground with a straight back.
- If sitting then sit up straight with a straight back and ideally adopt the royal sitting posture with your legs and feet.
- Roll your shoulders back and down. This will make you look more relaxed and appear more confident.
- Keep your head up and make regular eye contact.
- Don’t forget to SMILE!
If you observe Kate Middleton, this is how she stands and sits. Her arms are typically either by her side or clasping her clutch placed gently in front of her… and smile! She always looks elegant, poise and most importantly confident.
How to speak more eloquently, and sound more elegant and sophisticated
I’m not going to say I’ve mastered the art of eloquent speaking because there is always room for refinement! However, after spending over a decade cultivating this skill, I am sharing some of the techniques that have helped me in my journey. And I hope they will help you on your journey to sounding more eloquent and sophisticated.
Slow down and pace yourself
First and foremost, don’t speak too fast. Slow down and pace yourself. Speaking fast gives the impression that you’re nervous. Because when we are nervous, we naturally speak really fast.
So try to keep at a good pace and do not rush through your words. Have you heard the Queen speak or Barack Obama? They all speak at a good pace. Clearly and concisely. They take pauses appropriately. They take their time to express their points and articulate their story persuasively.
Don’t swallow your syllables
Connecting with speaking slowly is speaking “properly”. This means pronouncing the words properly and clearly. Don’t swallow the syllables nor drop the t’s. This is how the posh British speaks. Hence British accents are often associated with posh and eloquent. It is called the Queen’s English after all. I’ve observed the way my British colleagues speak. They appropriately pronounce the syllables in the word and I must admit, they do sound more eloquent.
It is not as hard to execute as you may think. When you start to speak slower and not rush through your words, you will be able to clearly pronounce the words. Equally, then you make a habit of pronouncing every syllable, you are naturally speaking slower. So a win-win here!
Control your pitch and intonation
The third technique in our how to speak more eloquently guide is controlling your pitches and intonation. You want to make your pitches and tones are broadly at the same level, not to be confused with sounding flat or monotone. We still want to show emotions in our tone!
Take a mental note of how you finish your sentences. Do you end with a lower pitch, or higher pitch or let your voice “trail off”. None of these is ideal. We want to keep a consistent tone throughout. I used to trail off with my pitch because I got scared of hearing my own voice. Some people have a tendency to finish their sentences with a higher pitch as if they were asking a question or seeking validation. Again show a lack of confidence.
Fun fact, the Queen actually lets her words glide to the finish line.
Control the emotions in your voice and maintaining composure
The next technique on how to speak more eloquently is controlling the emotions in your voice whilst you are talking. This is a tricky one and quite important. This is NOT about showing no emotions.
I repeat this is not about showing no emotions! No! We do not want to be a monotone speaker. We need to give our stories heart and soul through emotions so that we can connect better with people. This is about balancing your emotions in your voice, tone, and delivery WITHOUT losing your composure. This is particularly challenging when you are talking about emotional topics or telling a funny story. But I find taking a pause and a deep breath always helps.
This second pause is enough for me to reset my mental state and revert to using my ‘diaphragm’ voice to carry on talking. This allows me to remain more composed and in control. I call this my public speaking voice!
Fun fact: This is a technique used by singers, stage performers, actors, and most successful public speakers to have better control of the emotions in their voices.
Learn how to approriately express yourself
This is something I use to struggle a lot with. But so is critical to speaking more eloquently! So far we’ve been focusing on the “hows” of speaking. This is about the “whats” of speaking. Eloquent speaking is all about expressing ourselves and being influential.
To sound more sophisticated, we need to build up a plethora of ‘sophisticated’ and elegant words in our vocabulary. And appropriately use them when we speak. The best way to improve your expression is by reading more books. And really take note of how the authors create sentences, and the words they use to express their stories or certain events. I also really like listening to podcasts and ted talks. Not only can you learn how they express themselves, but you can also learn a thing or two about certain topics, such as public speaking tips or how to speak more eloquently perhaps?! 🙂
It goes without saying, do not use slang and definitely no swearing! And avoid using filler words such as the umms, ahhs, like, etc. If you get stuck and find yourself reaching for a filler word, it’s always good practice to take a pause and a deep breath before carrying on. Pauses can be quite impactful in our delivery.
Practise active listening and staying present
Last but not least is to practise active listening skills. This means staying present and listening attentively to what our conversation partner is saying.
Because firstly, it is rude and disrespectful when we are not listening or disengaged, and this is definitely not an elegant trait. Secondly, so that we can respond appropriately. And thirdly, it’s a conversation! And so it’s a two-way street.
Final thoughts on how to speak more eloquently and sound more elegant
Speaking eloquently is an art. Sounding elegant and sophisticated is a critical skill to master in our modern Ladylike transformation journey. It is also a great way to build self-confidence.
Learn how to speak more eloquently with these six techniques:
- Slow down and pace yourself
- Clearly and accurately pronounce the words. Don’t swallow your syllables
- Control your pitch and intonation. Do not end your sentences with a high pitch in order to sound more confident.
- Control your emotions in your voice and maintain composure by speaking in your ‘public speaking’ voice.
- Learn how to express yourself by expanding your vocabulary through reading more books and/or listening to podcasts.
- Practise active listening and staying present to engage and connect with your conversation partner(s).
Everyone has a story! Tell me yours! What do you think of these six techniques for mastering the art of eloquently speaking? Can you think of any other techniques that I might’ve missed? Please share in the comment section below.
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