Do people often ask you to repeat what you said? Has anyone ever smiled and nodded instead of answering a question? Does it ever seem like what you ask people to do differs from what they deliver?

If you find these to be true, you may need to rethink how you speak. Being clear with your voice is important to being understood by diverse groups of people and especially if looking for success in a job.

Bettering your language skills and learning to speak with clarity is no easy task. While you aren’t relearning the language from scratch, you are putting more thought into how you will say something.

Follow the below suggestions and see if they help you speak better.

Slow Down

A problem for many people is speaking too fast. Whether this is because of anxiety or being a fast thinker, saying your words in quick succession, even if you are sounding them out, can catch other people by surprise and not give them time to process what is being said.

To slow down your speech, don’t think about slowing down because this doesn’t seem to work for many people. Instead, change how you speak your words. 

To start, sound out the syllables each word. This will naturally slow your speech and make the words more clear. Also, work in natural pauses between ideas or after each sentence, avoid listing things off to prevent information dumping, and open your mouth wider than you normally would when sounding words. These suggestions will slow down speech just enough to have a positive impact.

Read Aloud

Reading a story, whether found in a newspaper, blog, or novel, can help you iron out any wrinkles in your speech that stems from poor grammar. Reading aloud will also give you the chance to practice sounding out words and will force you to change how you speak by making you translate someone else’s ideas into your own words. Read from a variety of writers, especially those with a high level of technical understanding of a language.

Record Your Conversations

The process of thinking often differs from what is being said. If you’ve ever had a thought that made sense to you, but failed when told to other people, then there may be a disconnect between your brain and mouth. To overcome this, start by saying your ideas aloud and recording them. You may even want to write them out too, then refine each idea and read it aloud again. Repeat this as needed until ideas are clear and concise. Over time, your thinking and speech will align better.

Study TED Talks or Popular Podcasts

This article wasn’t necessarily about public speaking, but if you don’t speak well you are unlikely to ever do a good job in front of a group. Even if given a chance to speak publicly, most of us will decline. That doesn’t mean we still can’t learn from how others do it.

TED Talks, podcasts, and other spoken mediums are a great source of learning in part because these people have figured out the art of speaking to a public audience. How can you learn from them? Simply watch or listen to podcasts and TED Talks that have a lot of views or received formal recognition and “steal” these speakers’ mannerisms, slang, and patterns. This can help you figure out how to make what you say more appealing, your ideas more clear, and people more interested in what you are saying, even if it isn’t perfect.

Speech is something you get better at with age. Some people are naturally gifted speakers, whether by genetics or it being a natural fit for their personality. But for the rest of us, speaking well is something we need to work at over a lifetime. Thankfully, the more effort we put in, the more we’ll be rewarded on the job or when family and friends compliment how well you speak. So don’t delay, start applying the above suggestions into your life and see if it makes a difference!