You Speak (at Least) 7,000 Words a Day. Here's How to Make Them Count.

August 17, 2017

Here are five tips for communicating with confidence.

Research shows the average person speaks at least 7,000 words a day, with many speaking much more than that.

Think about what that means to you. Those 7,000 words (at least) you speak each day are your imprint on the world. They dictate how people perceive you – and largely define you.

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Jeff Ansell, in his course on Communicating Confidently, asks you to reflect on yesterday and ask yourself these three questions:

  • How many of those words that you spoke yesterday showed you to be a confident communicator?
  • How many of those words that you spoke yesterday made a difference to those around you, a positive difference?
  • How many of those words served little or no purpose at all?

My answers, in order: very few, not too many, too many. Immediately, it caused me to reflect and yearn to make the 7,000+ words I speak each day mean more.

To make that happen, you should probably watch the entirety of Ansell’s course, which is empowering. But, some quick tips Ansell offered for making your words more impactful are:

1. Emphasize one word in each sentence.

When we are truly passionate about what we are talking about, we emphasize at least one word in every sentence. Example – “You wouldn’t BELIEVE what that person just said!”. Or, “Sales are 35 percent LOWER than expected!”.

When we aren’t passionate about what we are saying, we instead speak in monotone. And people tune out when you speak in monotone. Ansell said it generally doesn’t matter what word you emphasize in each sentence – just use use emphasis when you speak.

2. Enunciate every word when you speak.

You should only say words you want others to hear; otherwise what’s the point of saying them? Hence, you need to make sure people hear each word, so enunciation is key. This generally means talking slower.

To help you enunciate, Ansell suggested this exercise: place a pen or pencil in your mouth, between your teeth, and gently clamp down. Then, read something for 60 seconds aloud. Take the pen out of your mouth and continue reading aloud – you’ll enunciate much better.

You should do this exercise each day, or before you deliver a presentation, Ansell said.

3. Pause occasionally.

Ironically, one way to sound more confident is to say nothing at all, Ansell said. Pausing after making a point, for example, helps it set into your audience.

Also, pausing occasionally causes you to talk slower. When we talk slower, we choose our words more carefully and each one has more impact.

4. Avoid “uptalk” and clarifying statements.

Ever talked to someone who turns every sentence into a question because they end each one on an up inflection? Even concrete facts, like stating “My name is…”, sound like a question.

This is terrible. It makes you sound like you are seeking validation on everything you say (which, subconsciously, you might very well be doing) and people take you less seriously.

Same goes for clarifying statements like “I believe” or “sort of” or “kinda.” In all of these examples, you are weakening your own argument.

Say something because you fully believe it, not that you “sort of” believe it or “kinda” believe it. And others know that’s why you believe it – you are saying it, you don’t need to add in “I believe” or “in my opinion.”

5. Stand when you talk.

If possible, stand when you talk. People who stand when they talk tend to speak with more passion and energy.

If you are on a sales call or presenting, stand. You’ll be more engaging. To ensure your talking doesn’t get too fast, remember rule three and pause occasionally.

The takeaway

We wrote a popular post a few months ago that said the key to success in business comes down to doing fewer things, better. The same rule applies to speaking.

The best speakers use fewer words than the worst speakers. But those words carry much more weight, as the person delivers them clearly and with energy.

So, want to make your 7,000+ words go further? Start with reducing that number and focus on quantity, not quality. 

Want to learn more? Watch Jeff Ansell's full course, Communicating Confidently.