In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

We’ve all experienced it – that feeling you get when someone delivers the perfect message in the perfect way at the perfect time.  It’s captivating, inspiring, and just “hits home.”

Whether it’s in casual conversation, pitching a new idea at work, presenting in front of an audience, or even through our writing, having a fluent and articulate message is an essential piece to grabbing the attention of our audience, persuading them to action, and projecting confidence and competence.

 In today’s episode, we will:

  • Define verbal fluency and articulation and how they complement each other
  • Distinguish between clarity and conciseness 
  • Tips to manage disfluencies 
  • Strategies for making meaningful improvements

Referenced Resources:

If you want to improve your public speaking, aspire to get in front of an audience someday or even if you’d just like to be more confident in front of a room, Speaker School is the perfect live event for you!  Whether you have a message you’ve been burning to get out, or are still in the idea stage, there is no better place to find true progress.  Our Early Bird special is still available through April 1st, don’t hesitate on your chance to SAVE UP TO $200!

If you loved the episode but can’t get to Speaker School, we also offer virtual 1:1 mentoring to get you the practice and feedback you’re looking for.  Send us a message at and let’s get started!

More dates and events for 2024 are being added, keep up to date and come see us this year at one of our Live Events!  We look forward to seeing you there!

Referenced Material:

E314: How To Compare Yourself To Others In a Way That’s Constructive

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Brett Bartholomew  0:00  

A Few things are more frustrating than when you feel like you’re overwhelmed in over your head or not sure what to do in a particular situation. Furthermore, many of you do not need me to tell you this, there are certain things in life that reading a book, or even listening to a podcast aren’t going to help with. Because what you are contemplating or what you’re dealing with, is really complex and requires another human being to bounce ideas off of. This is why the art of coaching mentoring and strategy program exists. 


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Welcome to the Art of coaching Podcast. I’m Brett Bartholomew, and at a young age poor communication nearly cost me my life. Now, I help others navigate the gray area of social interaction, power dynamics and communication, so they can become more adaptable leaders regardless of their profession, age or situation. This podcast is for everybody who is fascinated with solving people problems. So if you’re in the no nonsense type who appreciates frank conversations, advice you can put to use immediately, and learning how others navigate the messy realities of leadership. You’re in the right place. I’m glad that you’re joining us. Let’s dive in.


All right, let’s dive in here to another episode. Today, we are going to tackle how to be more fluent and more articulate when you speak. This is another one that came as a request for many of you. And it’s a big topic. So hopefully, we’ll be able to give you some meat today. And as always, if you want to follow up on this, you want to go more deeply into a specific aspect of it, make sure to let us know. Now we’ll get right into it. When we start talking about verbal fluency and being articulate. These are two different things. So I’m going to define them in a moment. But their importance is unquestionable when it comes to trying to be persuasive when trying to appear more competent and even more competent when you speak. 


And of course, we don’t mean from a performative standpoint. Verbal fluency has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of persuasiveness in studies that range from the 1980s, all the way to modern day. And I mean, this is really understandable why that would be the case, we get very confused or distracted by those who tend to have a lot of disfluencies. That said, as we get towards the end of this episode, I’m going to talk about when it can actually be purposeful, to have certain disfluencies. I’m also going to talk about some of the cognitive aspects, because I know there’s some of you listening that feel like, well no matter what words just don’t come easily to me,. We’re gonna cover a lot of that, we’re gonna get into a lot of different areas. 


But the clarity, the fluency, the audibility of a speaker have a tremendous influence on any listener and their comprehension. I mean, the same with all of you, especially since many of the episodes that I do are improvised. Think about if I got on here, and I said, um, uh, I stuttered, I stammered. And after a while, that just becomes inaudible garbage, we expect a little bit of it. Some of it has a purpose. But we’ve got to be able to manage it. So it requires us to be able to listen and comprehend. And even if you’re somebody that has a foreign accent, or even if you have a strong, unfamiliar regional dialect, that can make it more difficult. So how do we manage these things, especially without getting preoccupied thinking about them? 


Because that’s something that can really harm, our ability to be fluent, or articulate. And one of the reasons I also want to do this episode is, it really bothered me, when I did some research on this, because I wanted to see what others said on the topic. And so much of the advice was just, well, read more. Read more or practice. I think it’s well intentioned, I think it’s fine. And there’s some truth to it. And I’ll break that down for you. But I don’t know that that’s always super helpful. A lot of times, people that struggle with disfluencies, or who aren’t articulate or who think they’re not articulate, the last thing they want to do is any kind of formal practice, it’s uncomfortable for them, and it really hits their self esteem. So I’m going to give you some practical examples as well. 


Now, let’s not get them confused, fluency and articulation are closely related, but they do refer to different aspects of language proficiency and their place in terms of communication skills. Both are critical for effective communication, no doubt, but they operate in complimentary yet different ways. So for simplicity sake, think of fluency as the flow and ease of language use. It encompasses several different dimensions. It could be related to the pacing, or speed and smoothness the ability to speak or even write at a comfortable pace without undue hesitation repetition, or pauses that disrupt the listener or readers understanding. 


Coherence. What’s the logical organization of thoughts and ideas? Or is it easy to follow the speaker or the writers in line of reasoning? Of course, their vocabulary are what some resources called lexical resourcefulness. I think that’s a little bit of a ridiculous word that speaks to having a broad vocabulary, as many of you I think, would agree with, there’s a fine line there too. We appreciate people that have a wide range of vocabulary, but beyond a point, it becomes a bit pretentious, and then just accuracy. So but I want you to just think about fluency as how smoothly and effectively one tends to use language. That’s how we evaluated at our apprenticeship workshops and at our speaker school, what is the flow the ease the efficiency with which you communicate? 


So if you’re able to seamlessly transition between topics or speaking points during a presentation or just any type of oration without a lot of hesitation, stutters or stammers. That is fluency. Now articulation, on the other hand, refers to a lot of things ranging from clarity and precision. And also the production of sounds, words, sentences that involves everything from pronunciation. So are you able to produce sounds and words clearly and accurately, so that they’re more easily, more, there’s a disfluency for you right there–  more easily understood by others. 


Enunciation, there’s a level of distinctiveness in which you speak. There’s clarity in the separation of sounds and words. Expression, the use of tone pitch, all of those things to convey meaning this is something that actors do so well. Just appreciate that for a moment, watch his show a good show, whether it’s madman or the wire, or something like that, or a good movie and think about what a certain actor does to really manage their pitch or enunciation or their delivery of something. And when it comes to articulation, there’s two things I want to pay close attention to, I want to really differentiate because they can be confusing. 


Let’s talk about clarity and conciseness. Because these often get confused. Clarity is the perfect size, straightforward articulation of an idea, or a thought or a feeling. It’s done in a manner that minimizes room for misinterpretation or ambiguity. So let’s say for example, I say we’ll meet at 3pm in conference room A, as opposed to let’s meet later. That’s clarity. It’s very hard for somebody to mistake what I’m saying. 


Heads up, our only speaker School of the Year is coming up on June 1 And June 2, in Phoenix, Arizona, this is such a unique event. We keep it under 10 people, you get a chance to have a lot of reps, and you get a lot of feedback. In a judgment free zone. We mix in a lot of fun, we go through everything on slide design, how to present more effectively how to be more articulate, and it really doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to actually build a speaking career, continue to scale the one you have, or if you just want to get more competent speaking in front of crowds. We’ve had people that have came that have done TED talks, we’ve had people that come that have social anxiety, it is a very welcoming atmosphere. 


So if you enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to grow and improve and connect with other like minded people, and you want a chance to become more articulate, to become more fluent, to improve how you get your message across, do not miss speaker school. Also, it is a perfect time of year to come to Phoenix it is always right before it gets way too hot in the summer, you can make a little vacation out of it, you can go hiking, you can go to Sedona, you can go to Scottsdale, there’s so much to do. So go to, now. That’s Remember, this is our only one of the year early bird pricing is still available, we hope to see you there.


So let’s say for example, I say we’ll meet at 3pm in conference room A, as opposed to let’s meet later. That’s clarity. It’s very hard for somebody to mistake what I’m saying. Conciseness is when we convey information or ideas in a brief or succinct manner, hopefully, ideally, without sacrificing comprehensiveness or essential information. Imagine you have to distill a lengthy report into a few key bullet points or a synopsis. But from a spoken standpoint, there’s this infatuation and almost romanticization of the conciseness. A lot of people now think that if you’re concise that you’re brilliant, or man, you must be really smart. But think of Yoda. Yoda is very concise, but not very clear. There’s a lot of people that speak in riddles, the man that sounds good, but then when you stop, you’re not really sure what he meant by that. 


So clarity and conciseness are also part of being articulate, but they’re absolutely not the same thing. They’re not the same thing. So getting back to this, we know that it’s annoying to listen to garbled rambling sentences punctuated all the way through with ums and uhs and stutters and stammers. And the issue there is that can quickly lead to inattention somebody else tuning you out. There was a 1995 study. And I always love when people criticize old studies as if they’re somehow not relevant. But there was a 1995 study. I think the gentleman’s name was Chris infield, and it looked at undergraduate students, and it looked at their use of disfluencies. And what it ultimately said is impressions of quality. of their presentations or when they spoke, they were negatively impacted whenever they use a profusion of ums. 


And what’s worse is, a lot of times it was just attributed to a lack of preparation in part of the speaker. So think about that, because that’s a terrible thing you might be prepared, you might care a great deal about what you’re talking about. But just because you have some disfluencies, here that you haven’t really been told how to work on, or what even the root cause of them are. Now you’re looked at as somebody that’s unprofessional or unprepared. But that is easy, that is easy to attribute that to those kinds of issues. Now, I mentioned how in the end of this episode, we’re going to talk about when disfluency can actually help you and be beneficial. 


And for any of you that are parents out there you work with kids, you know that a certain amount of normal, non fluency or disfluency is found in young children. That’s gonna be a reality, and everybody is prone to hesitation, especially in situations where they have to speak under pressure. One of the causes of punctuating speech with sounds like eh, or hm or uh, oftentimes is trying to put too many ideas or facts across in one sentence. And I bring that up right now, because I just see this in my son. So it’s very relevant. He gets very excited. He’s starting to get more of a mastery of language. But when he gets excited, he’ll just start going, and he’ll get stuck and have to say, Hey, buddy, slow down. It’s okay. Take a breath, what do you want to say? And that makes him us more short, crisp sentences. And he made have some pauses in between, but he quits rambling a little bit. 


So we’ll talk about how to manage this stuff. But I just want you to appreciate where you see it in everyday life. Because you might say, Okay, well, what are you trying to say? I’m like a kid? Well, yeah, we all are to a degree, I just want you to appreciate that sometimes, you get excited about something you get passionate, and one of the most common reasons for it is you’re just trying to say too much. I’m guilty of it, I get on these podcasts, there’s a lot I want to share with you. There’s always a balance, I don’t want to share too much, I don’t want to be overwhelming. At the same time, I hate when I have to negate some of my own expertise that I’ve worked really hard to earn. Because, I know there’s some of you out there that want to get into the weeds and are nerds for this stuff as I am. But then I start remembering, hey, peel it back a little bit. Let’s keep it simple. Let’s keep it very, very simple. 


Another area just because it’s a part of everyday life, think about when you go see the doctor. There was a 1984 study done by Heath and colleagues that talked about how doctors will use this fluency sometimes, especially when they’re speaking, they’re using technical terms. Sometimes they’ll use a speech hesitation or disfluency to try to gain the attention of a patient, which I thought was a bit odd. But I can appreciate that, I can appreciate it. So let’s talk about 10 ways to be disfluent. We’ll lay this out so you can recognize it. And then we’ll talk about how you can work on these things. So one is, as you know, many filled pauses, ums uhs ers. And there’s research out there to speak to the fact that these aren’t always bad, because sometimes we’re just trying to signify that we’re thinking. Something’s coming. 


And I’ll do this, admittedly, when we run our workshops, somebody might ask me a question. And I might just say, Let me think about this for a minute. So I can give you a thoughtful answer. I certainly don’t have to do that. I could just say let me think about it to give you a thoughtful answer. But some of these things are a little bit reflexive. Remember, it’s not bad that you have some disfluencies, you don’t have too many. So what I want to tell you early on is if you catch yourself using a disfluency, and you’re hyper aware of it, it’s just going to lead to a cascade, it’s okay. Acknowledge it, apologize for it if you want or better yet, just keep going. Sloppy diction, that’s number two, that’s another way to be disfluent, that lack of clear enunciation or using words appropriately or just not sounding them out. We want to make sure that we’re aware of that. 


There’s of course, certain kinds of handicaps that might need speech pathology, you have a list, things like that, for some folks can’t be helped. They just need a speech pathologist. They’ve got to work on it. I had a problem with that when I was a kid. Stammering, difficulty controlling the rhythm and timing of speech. False starts, sometimes people will say I must mention. Well, I need to clarify by saying, of course, you may already know, there’s a lot of times people can get going on an idea. And then they just keep going around and around and around. And that leads to poorly organized sentences. And it leads to just a lot of disjunctive. pneus, when we’re trying to get to the core point. Repetitive phrases, sort of, ya know, I can say, you know, a good bit I think that’s a good place for many of you to start is what disfluencies do you use?


My uncle, love him to death but oftentimes says, right, and it’s not that he says it a few times. It’s that he’ll almost say it after every sentence. Well, I did this this weekend, right? And the weather was nice. So I went for a walk right? And I must catch myself being like, well, what? Yeah, right, why would it be wrong, but he doesn’t know it’s he’s doing it a lot of it is subconscious, cluttering lack of voice projection mumbling. And a lot of people, especially those that are subject matter experts will also be disciplined because of jargon. So I know we often think of it and it’s often spoke to disfluency. That is from a standpoint of um, uhs, stutter, stammers. But keep in mind, using jargon can absolutely get in the way of understanding 


If we’re looking at fluency is the flow, ease and efficiency with which you communicate jargon can really be an issue there. And that’s not just in the medical sphere, which that is definitely one that is well studied. Now, their 2006 article, use the term medical ease. And that is what they use to describe the various forms of medical jargon. And the code that persists despite its problematic nature, I often see this, when I go and watch people speak, inherently, again, well intentioned, they care, they want to showcase their expertise. But you have to remember it’s not about you, find that balance. And if anything, just clarify. Say, hey, we may get into the weeds here with some jargon, I’m going to make sure that I make it as simple to understand and not because I don’t think that you guys are intelligent enough to understand it. But I just want to make sure that I’m very clear, at least prepare people for that, at least prepare people for those things. 


But it gets very difficult for somebody who’s listening to code switch, or stay up or on pace with what you’re saying, if you’re using too much jargon. And that also can be compounded by the fact that it especially if you’re talking to a crowd, that is multi generational, multi lingual, multicultural anything, the same words mean different things. So you want to try to be concrete, as concrete as possible to avoid that kind of jargon issue. Now, this research or this story that I’m going to tell you comes from something I read through the work of Owen Harvey, and he was talking about that there’s this famous 1952 trial in England, where 19 year old his name was Derek Bentley, and he was sentenced to be hanged for the murder of a police officer. 


And this goes into the skill just of explaining and all this, but the shooting was carried out by his accomplice. So the accomplice’s name was Christopher Greg, he was 16 years old. But since the latter was a minor, he couldn’t be sentenced to death. So the verdict which is still controversial, to this day, depended largely on the interpretation of Bentley’s alleged directive that night to his partner when they were confronted by the police officer. Apparently, he had said, let them have it, Chris. And the prosecution’s position was that Bentley had told his accomplice to shoot. And the defense are, they were saying he was saying, to hand over his gun, but let them have it, Chris, that wasn’t very clear what he meant? 


No, I know, that is a drastic example. But it’s really not that drastic. Sometimes I have to use those drastic examples to shake people out of apathy. Because we can often think, Oh, well, that would never happen to me, or that’s not relevant to me, you do need to appreciate the states here for you to take it seriously. So let’s talk about how to work on some of these things. Let’s talk about how to integrate fluency and articulation for more effective communication. Now, I think it’s easier if we adopt a framework here. So I’m going to go over some pieces of advice. And first and foremost, the pieces of advice to come right away are all about input. So what can you do from an input standpoint? 


So if I say we read widely and regularly, or most importantly, even broadly, that’s an input aspect that can help you. Because this is improving your ability to be fluent and articulate, is very multifaceted. It’s not just about exposure to new words, or exposure to new ways of writing or speaking, you’re, of course going to have to practice it. So we’re gonna go over inputs first, and then we’re gonna go over outputs. So when you can expose yourself to diverse reading materials, of course, that will enhance vocabulary, but that’s not passive. You have to critically think about these things. Whenever I see a new term. I always try to look it up. And then I tried to practice using it in certain sentences. And guess what, I’ll use things incorrectly, there’s been plenty of times that happens, it’s going to happen with you as well. And if you get caught on that, just apologize and move on. It’s okay. 


You’re working on that. But when you read broadly, that introduces a lot of new ideas and ways of thinking. I use Microsoft OneNote and there’s plenty of times I’ll read something and I add it to this note in my Microsoft OneNote this folder called stylistic, inspiration. And that gives me an idea. Now I’ll never plagiarize that. I mean, at least never willingly. I’m sure there’s times where we all unwittingly do that. But I always try to adopt it. So I’m gonna open this up in real time, and give you an example. So, I mean, here’s a really simple one. And God knows when this was taken, but it’s just a phrase, one man’s tool is another man’s weapon. There’s nothing genius about that phrase. But sometimes when I’m writing, or if I’m saying something, it’s something that reminds me almost like if I rapped for a living, it’s a different rhyme scheme. 


Or there was another one, I want to make sure it’s appropriate, because some of these are goofy and off kilter. Let’s see, hmm. Oh, here it is, the seamless synthesis of life and art. I remember reading that in a book. And I was like, that’s a really nice phrase. Now, I don’t know where I’m gonna use that. I don’t know if I’m gonna use that. But it’s just there. It’s there in case I get stuck writing something, and I need some inspiration. And I want to think about how to structure something differently. So that’s what I mean, don’t just read. Read and take notes and store ideas and then make them your own. That’s a really, really big one. Otherwise, what happens is, you just get people that give you advice to expand your vocabulary. Great. You read a dictionary every night. 


But if you’re not actively learning those new words, and knowing how to use them appropriately, then you just sound like a jackass. You do you sound like a jackass. Congratulations, you’ve learned a new word every day, but you don’t know how to use it. So you do need to think critically, you absolutely need to think critically. Another input oriented thing that you can do is of course, listen, to articulate speakers out as with everything, remember, there has to be an output of this, I can go listen to somebody play the piano, well, that does not mean I know how to play the piano. But when you listen to skilled communicators, and these could be public speakers, podcast hosts, articulate friends, colleagues, that provides models to emulate. 


You might love the way this person’s pacing or flow is. I remember one time I saw an interview with Jeff Wiener from LinkedIn, he was talking about Blitzscaling a business. And I thought, man, he is very relaxing to listen to, at least for me. And so there’s times where I’ll try to emulate his style. But there’s also times that’s just not me. I talked about this recently on social media, I have many different personas, all Brett Bartholomew, but many different personas that add to the range and how I speak. So sometimes it’s like, Alright, there’s something that emulate other times, Nope, it’s going to be a little bit more raw. But you do want to pay attention to choice of words and phrasing and pacing, that can be a very nice thing to do that, it’s a nice thing to do for you to be able to have that input. 


Now let’s talk about outputs. Of course, you do need to practice. How you practice is going to vary. For me, I’m not somebody that ever practices in front of a mirror, I’ve never practiced a presentation. It’s not me saying you should follow that advice. For some people. That’s terrible advice. For me. That’s what works. I practiced by getting up, I’ve been speaking a long time. And then I realized, man, there is really nothing other than Toastmasters out there for other people to practice and get the raw bad reps out in a way that they can get feedback. So that’s why we started our speaker school course, if you don’t know, one or two times a year, depending on the year, we run a course called Speaker school, very small, we limit it to 10 people, everybody gets a lot of reps, it’s a safe place to fail, get feedback, get evaluated, that is something that can help tremendously, tremendously. Because if you don’t get that feedback, great, you’re stuck in that input phase, maybe you’re reading, you’re taking in more knowledge, you’re expanding your vocabulary, but now you’re never practicing it or you’re never practicing it amongst peers, or you’re never practicing it in a safe space. 


So think about that. If you’re somebody that is always, oh, I want to tell my story, or I want to be able to share some insights over the years. But then you never get around an environment where you can do that, man, I mean, that’s a rough way to learn. That’s how I had to learn, I had to make a lot of mistakes speaking around the world, as I continue to refine it. It can be a great way to learn. But if I could go back and do it all over again, I know I would have liked something like speaker school. And that’s why we created it. That’s why we created that. So you have to get that kind of feedback. You have to practice. If you can’t do something like that, make sure that you try. You could join a debate club, go to a public speaking group or discussion forums. 


But when people ask us, Hey, are you going to create an online version of speaker school? We tell them Well, no. And I don’t know if we’re going to do that in the future. But we’re not going to do that because what’s important is that you get practice speaking in front of people, if we did an online version of that great, we can give you the information, you’ve seen the slides, we can give you assignments or things like that help you get better. But what actually helps you the most what actually helps you acquire that skill, especially when dealing with the emotional aspect of that is getting in front of groups. 


You’ve got to get in front of groups, you’ve got to embrace opportunities for public speaking, whether it’s giving a presentation, making a toast leading a meeting, any public speaking opportunity, can help you improve fluency. You’re gonna crash and burn a few times, you are. So you do need to be patient, and persistent. So just to reiterate this, I like to divide advice into categories of input and output with an emphasis on feedback oriented outputs. To not think reading, or reading a dictionary or reading alone is going to help you be more articulate, you need to get around feedback oriented outputs, that is going to be very helpful in terms of your not only your language acquisition, but your skill development. 


That helps us emphasize the importance of absorbing that information input, but then actively using it output in a cycle that really gives way to experiential learning. So if I had to put together an art of coaching framework, that’s kind of how I looked at that is absorption, that’s our input, internalization, make sure that you’re not just taking it in, but you’re thinking about it. And then you need to have that experimentation. That’s that output sort of aspect of things. Right, you’re actively using it, then you get feedback. And then there’s iteration. So absorption, internalization, experimentation, iteration. 


Another thing that you need to have, and hopefully this goes without saying, you really need to develop contextual competence. Contextual competence is a very, very relevant and valuable term, especially in any framework of communication skills, or leadership, because it essentially encapsulates the ability to understand and appropriately adapt to a lot of the nuances of different situations, audiences and cultural dynamics, you have to have that. So what I mean is, so much of being fluid and articulate is not only having mastery, about language, and being able to articulate those ideas and have an efficiency to how you speak. But you’ve got to be flexible and adjusting your language, and the tone and the style to align with not only the context and objectives, but who’s in the audience. 


And I say this, because I went to China, pre COVID. And there were so many speakers from western parts of the world, that despite the fact that we had to use a translator, and it was a non simultaneous translator, just spoke at their normal pace. Spoke at their normal pace, use jargon, they weren’t not cognizant that they were speaking to a crowd that didn’t speak that language. And if they were, they weren’t cognizant of the fact that they had a translator that had to hear what they were saying, internalize, how can I adapt this for a Mandarin speaking audience, and there were many other dialects there as well, and then share that. So they weren’t making it easy for that person to do it. 


I mean, just imagine, if you’re hearing somebody speak in a language, it is not your first language, and you’ve got to stay up. And then you’ve got to think about how do I translate that, and then put that into a way that the audience can understand it. So many times, people just lacked situational awareness, audience sensitivity, that cultural literacy, and then they just don’t adapt their message at all. They have terrible strategic messaging. And it’s why I laugh. I’m not trying to be rude, but it’s why I laugh if somebody’s like, oh, I want to come to your speaker school. But you know, I don’t know, like, I feel like I’m good enough at this. I just need to work on this. And, yeah, that’s a scary thing. You really don’t want to be in front of a crowd and find out the hard way. 


So contextual competence, being able to flexibly adjust the language, the tone, the style, all those things, to the situation is a huge part of it. And I don’t think this is an area where I just utilize a disfluency again, because sometimes I give away my power because I’m not trying to be rude. This is something that I haven’t seen any other videos or people talk about. They literally just talk about vocabulary, or reading and veg practice, no. Well, and we’ll put people up against constraints. One thing we did recently, I did this with one of our virtual mentoring clients, phenomenal speaker. But what I said is I said, Hey, in the middle of your speaking and we were doing this over zoom, I’m gonna hold up an index card, that’s gonna give you a constraint, and you’re gonna have to adjust. 


So that constraint might be 10 seconds left in your talk, it might be imagine I speak a different language and you need to Slow it down. It could be imagine, I’m rolling, my eyes are acting like I’m falling asleep, we have all these different constraints that will throw people off so they can prep. And you know what happens? People mess up, and then we laugh about it. And we do it again. But that’s the thing that you’re gonna miss, if you don’t take those opportunities, I cannot emphasize that enough. If you go to anything, even if it’s Toastmasters, and they’re not giving you a lot of feedback, they’re not telling you where you need to improve. They’re not putting you in positions where you can ethically fail, you need to run. 


Because anything you do, you’re trying to practice on how to be more fluent or articulate should have some evaluative aspect of it. Yeah, that’s, that’s what you want, right? You want feedback, to be able to assess your performance from a critical nature. And whether you call it evaluation, critical review, or constructive critique, feedback, assimilation, whatever that is, you need some kind of performance analysis that allows you to engage in reflective practice. That’s the most valuable thing if you were my client, right now, as a listener, after you spoke on something, I’d say, Okay, here’s one of our evaluations, it’s real simple. undergo a self assessment, quietly, you just fill this out, I’m going to do the same. And now let’s talk about it in about five minutes, after we filled those things out. And that’s the goal, you enhance a feedback loop. You You have alignment there. And now we’re able to reassess and adjust, we’re able to reassess and adjust. 


Alright, so let’s close this out with this. One other thing I want to talk about was just neurophysiology briefly, and I’m not going to get outside my scope here. Why I’m addressing this is because far too often. Far too often, I hear the excuse, well, my brains just not wired that way. My brains just not wired that way. And I don’t know what to do. So I want to be clear. neurophysiology, of course, plays a role in language acquisition, fluency, your ability to be articulate, there are going to be inherent abilities and challenges that individuals face and have and all of that. That’s just part of the interplay of it. It is. And we know that even things that kids do at a young age as they develop motor skills, that impacts language processing areas of the brain, whether we’re talking about Broca’s area, which is involved in speech production, Warren AKIsE, area, which is involved in spoken language, those are all crucial for language skills. 


So variations in the development, and the connectivity of those areas from childhood and beyond, absolutely, can influence an individual’s natural proficiency. But like, what’s the point in having a whole podcast about that? Just so that we can kind of be like, Oh, okay, well, that’s interesting, right? We could sit here and talk about genetic factors, neuroplasticity, brain regions, and all that. But let’s focus on what we can do about it. Let’s focus on how we can build off those things in really practical ways. So one, anytime you’re talking about neuroplasticity, and language processing, and just being socially agile or cognitive processing, you want to do things that are improvisational or off the cuff. 


And no, I’m not trying to be bias here, because we use a lot of improv at our clinics. I mean, we do that for a reason, engaging, and then the research supports this, when you engage in activities that require quick thinking, adaptive responses, you’re going to significantly improve your ability to think on your feet. You are. And remember, I’m not trying to sell you on this, I’m just whether you want to join a debate club, if you’re in a part of your life like if you’re still in school, or maybe just even taking improv classes, you need to get in some kind of structured, albeit dynamic environment that allows you to practice rapid thought generation. 


Now, I’ve gone through a period of my life where I’ve probably been a little bit too humble. And I’m working on that. So I will say, I don’t think that there is a better run improv oriented workshop in the world than what we do. And I don’t say that from a hubris standpoint, I say that because we really care about making it great. So if you want to do that, and that sounds fun, or even kind of scary to come check it out, you will love it. Of course, you can do things like structured journaling as well. never really worked for me. But that also might be because I write a newsletter. If you didn’t know we have a newsletter, and I put it out every other week or every week. And I’ve also written books or I’ve written blogs. So that’s my version of journaling. 


For some people journaling works really well. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Just set a five to 10 minute timer, and write nonstop about a specific topic, aiming to articulate your thoughts as quickly and as coherently as possible. That of course can help improve both processing speed and the ability to express your thoughts. The key is you can’t self edit too much. And this is the key if you’re writing as well, a client that I’m working with right now that’s working on their new book, they are constantly editing as they write. So they’re not making any progress. I’ve been there, and I’ve done that, there’s a point to where that’s beneficial. But man, it can really hurt you. It can really, really, really hurt you. 


There’s research out there that talks about how learning a new music instrument, or just even any new skill, that anything that requires both cognitive and motor skills, that helps stimulate neural connections, which can enhance cognitive flexibility, because you’ve got to interpret information swiftly and then respond with relatively precise action. So if that’s your bag, cool, that can be transferable to linguistic ability as well. There’s, of course research out there that talks about exercise, high intensity exercise, steady state, aerobic exercise, anything that makes you push your limits and improve blood flow is going to improve overall brain health and executive function. That’s something up so get out get moving, you’re going to increase blood flow to the brain, that’s always good. 


When I’m stuck writing, or even when I’ve had a day like today where I’ve been in this chair way too long. There’s some times that I even just forego strength training, which is something I love far more than aerobic exercise. Not that I mind aerobic exercise. I’m somebody that likes exerting force. But there’s some days that I’m like, Screw this, I just need to move. Because there’s a meditative function to it. It has less impact on my central nervous system, which a lot of times, I mean, the podcast is tremendously CNS exhausted for me, because I’m really trying to lock in for all of you. But I’ll just do something I know I need blood flow, I need something simple. I’m not thinking, whatever works. 


But I do want to be clear. If you want something that more directly relates, the empirical evidence suggests that improvisational activities are going to positively impact the language processing communication skills, cognitive function significantly. Remember, improv requires you to listen very attentively, to process information rapidly, and to respond spontaneously in a way that you don’t self edit as much. So that is an invaluable exercise and underappreciated tremendously under appreciated, mainly because of how people view it. Oh haha that’s stupid, I don’t get it, there are so much under you, when when we think of mammals and how mammals learned. 


One of the key areas or key ways that a mammal learns and humans are a mammal, is to play, play. That’s how we learn. We learn through play. And it’s low stakes. So when we think about that, when we think about how important it is to have low stakes, environments, that’s what keeps us from self editing and worrying so much. And then of course, the goal is after you kind of get out of that phase, you integrate that with some higher stakes stuff. Say, okay, and this is why if you come to our speaker school, don’t be surprised, we’ll do improv. But then we’ll also do more structured roleplay, and practice reps. And we go through this spectrum of realism. What’s low stakes for fun, surreal? Okay, what’s higher stage realism? And then how can we continue to build that out? How can we build that out, and that’s what really helps from a cognitive flexibility, creativity, reduce anxiety, increased confidence aspects side of things. 


So some other key points. Before we go, I want to make sure I reference my notes here for you. Man, there’s a lot of areas we can go. A lot of places we can go to. So I’m very anxious to see if what you guys took to. Last second tips. If you really struggle with this still, despite practice, despite exposing yourself to new material, new influences, make sure you’re using enough aids to explain. And it can be any kind of aid, a visual aid, anything, whatever you can do. Because as you all know, people assimilate information using a lot of different sensory channels. So aids can range from physical objects, models, pictures, tables, charts, graphs, diagrams, demonstrations, video, anything you want. Just think about that. 


I don’t like it as a crutch. It’s a crutch if you have to use it all the time. But what it really does is it helps direct attention to key points. It gives you constrained that’s one thing I like about creating slides is there’s a lot that I know on a certain subject, but I got to keep it on this certain slide. And so many people that unfortunately will clutter slides with way too much information. And whether you want to look at that general rule of no more than one point a slide or no more than six lines of text, the slide that all just depends. But everything from the choice of font, slide use, the technology you use. Those are just aids but they can vary very, very much help you. If you’re struggling, 


I just want to encourage a lot of you as a closing thought to work also on managing your anxiety. There is that fear of public speaking, or Glossophobia, I believe it’s called as widespread public speaking anxiety, that’s always when people just have too much arousal around this, they have a lot of no negative self focus cognitions it’s like, Oh, I’m gonna impure, I’m gonna appear stupid. And then that just creates so much what they call speech apprehension. Do whatever you can to manage that. Because otherwise, from a physiological standpoint, you have increased blood pressure, your heart rate goes up. So listen to some music, breathe, have some kind of routine, but also just realize it’s okay. 


It’s a process, it is totally fine. If you’re practicing a speech for the first time, or you’re doing some just say, hey, this might be a little sloppy. I’m working on it. I appreciate you being patient. But other times, just own it. Own it, you’re not going to hear me apologize if I use a disfluency periodically through the podcast. I mean, you’re a human, you’re a human. And frankly, I would much rather listen to somebody that periodically as disfluencies than listen to somebody that I know very clearly is reading off a teleprompter. And that is something that you need to take with you as well, some of you. And I’d encourage you to go back and listen to our episode on self comparison. See episode we release right before this one. 


You are comparing yourselves to people that are whether you know it or not using teleprompters. Many of your favorite favorite YouTube people, podcasts people, whatever people they’re using teleprompters. They’re using a lot of visual aids. And if you’re using that I’m not getting on you. There’s a time in place. That’s fine. I have bullet points, I have loose thoughts of things that I read from periodically. I always tried to be honest about that. But I think that’s dicey. If you’re really comparing yourself to those people without being realistic, you’re comparing your weaknesses, to not only somebody else’s strengths, but somebody else’s strategies. And you’re not always going to be able to use that. 


I’ve seen plenty of people who are great on their YouTube channel, and then they speak in person, I’m like, wow, wow, we’re all going to have our moments too. So just embrace that process. And I promise you one little piece at the end about the another benefit of disfluency. There’s a lot of research out there that talks about and I think the context was if I remember correctly, they were students ranking a professor, and then there are other permutations of this as well. But in one of these circumstances, the professor came out and they spoke very fluently, they were very controlled. Locked in, very locked in. And then in another part of the experiment, the professor came out accidentally spilled a cup of coffee, out a few disfluencies. Not too many, but a number of them. And people ranked that version of that individual more likable or relatable. 


So be hard on yourself, be a professional, strive to get better. But you’re always going to have some disfluencies It’s part and parcel of it, just work on it. If we can help you in any way we’d love to we do virtual mentoring on this stuff. We have our speaker school reach out, we’re going to be hosting one in Phoenix, Arizona this year. Believe early bird pricing is still up. Remember, we only take 10 people, we do that so we can give everybody a lot of feedback. But check it out. I get it. You’re always going to have things in your life. I understand. But this is something that will transfer to everything you do. It transfers everything that you are, bring your spouse out, bring your kids out. There’s plenty of hiking and fun things to do in Phoenix. We’d love to have you. Okay, for myself in the red. It’s the rest of the art of coaching team. This is Brett Bartholomew. Let us know what helped the most reach out to us at We’ll talk to you next time.

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