Women often sabotage their speaking skills with poor word choice, gestures and vocal quality, and even how they structure and articulate their thoughts. Communication is, after all, more than the sum of the words we use.
Here are some ways to keep your power:
- State rather than ask. When women make requests, they ask, often supporting, justifying and even conveying appreciation. Men simply state their needs–take it or leave it. In business, and in dealing with men in particular, less is more–and more easily understood. The best way to get your point across is to be absolutely sure you have one; then be direct, be brief and be seated.
- Ask yourself the question: And your point is? And be sure you can answer it in the fewest words possible.
- Avoid intensifiers: Very, really, truly and the all too common, basically, essentially and fundamentally add little to content and can weaken your message.
- Don’t be too sweet. Resist the temptation to soften your voice with a higher register or lower volume. To find your natural pitch and range, open your mouth and say “ah” as you would for your doctor.
- Gestures should strengthen, not detract. They compete with your message for your listener’s attention. Don’t touch, toss or run your fingers through your hair– not even the periodic tuck behind the ear.
- Finally, smile and make eye contact–because confidence begets confidence!
By, Susan I. Wranik, linguist and certified speech-language pathologist, president of Susan I. Wranik Associates and author of How to Speak to a Man/How to Speak to a Woman.