The more people online take the power of speech for granted, the clearer it is that words do matter. Unfortunately, with all the variations of stress we deal with daily, it's been getting harder and harder to express ourselves politely while still effectively saying what we mean.
To help avoid miscommunication at work—and in your personal life—here are a few tips to help you express your thoughts better:
1. Don't be mema—think before you speak (and react!)
This sounds simple, but can be tricky when you're engaged in spontaneous conversation. A few tips could be letting someone speak before you, or simply being honest and admitting that you need a few moments to gather your thoughts.
You can also buy yourself some time (and maybe gain more insight) by asking a question first before speaking. Just make sure that you listen to other people, too, para hindi paulit-ulit.
2. Make your intentions clear.
Before saying anything in a meeting or a presentation, make sure to state your purpose or give context so that you're all on the same page. Think of it as a Subject line in an e-mail. For instance, before setting a meeting, be sure to explain what the objective is and maybe even give an estimate of how long your session will be. Aside from being clear and purposeful, you also allow other people to manage their schedules better.
3. Know your prepositions.
We learn prepositions as early as grade school, which is probably why we take them for granted. So take off your "alam ko na 'yan" hat and give yourself that much-needed refresher course:
Prepositions, like after, in, on, at, to, and with, are short words (usually) before nouns and pronouns that help us identify time and location.
There are a lot of rules to follow and keep track of, but here's a basic guide for your everyday conversations:
Click here for something a little bit more immersive.
4. Avoid using the word very
Instead, think of a more appropriate word to describe what you really mean.
Here's a simple guide to get you started:
It helps to expand your vocabulary by reading for at least 15 minutes every day.
FN TIP: When reading, look up the meaning of a word you don't know and try using it in a sentence that day.
5. Avoid repeating words
There's no hard and fast rule when it comes to this, but people can get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again. Explore synonyms, use pronouns, or simply be more precise when describing something.
AVOID: "I sent you an e-mail yesterday to check Anne's e-mail. Please reply to her e-mail within the day."
TRY: "I sent you a message yesterday to check Anne's e-mail. Please reply to her within the day."
6. In writing, don't take punctuation marks for granted.
There are about 14 commonly used punctuation marks in the english language, and each one has a different purpose. Learning them can be a little tedious, but using them correctly can save you a lot of time and effort in the future. (The Oxford comma even helped settle a court case in 2017.)
When in doubt, always refer to an expert. (One of my favorites is Grammar Girl!)
7. Avoid over-explaining one idea.
During presentations, it's easy to ramble on to fill in silences or when you're faced with blank stares. To avoid this, make sure to prepare your notes thoroughly, and maybe even keep a timer next to it for reference.
To keep things brief you can also try the P-R-E-S method featured on The Muse:
Point: Begin with the key point you want to make.
Reason: Explain what’s driving your comment on the matter.
Example: Give an example to expand on why your comment is important.
Summary: Close it out by reiterating your main point.
8. Practice in front of a mirror.
It would be wonderful for public speaking to be as easy as it looks, but it never is. The reason why hosts are so good is because they practice almost daily, and experience hones their skills over time. In other words, you just have to keep doing it in order to get better. So don't be afraid to make mistakes, it's how you'll improve.
Bonus: Work on your posture and make eye contact!
Body language can be just as important as your words. Even if you don't feel as confident as you want to be, if you act it, no one will see the difference. Hence the expression fake it 'til you make it. Good luck!