Are you more adept at having mental conversations than real-life ones? Do you have good knowledge and vocabulary yet struggle with words every time you open your mouth? Is it difficult to recall the right words at the right time? Someone asks you something and suddenly bang! Your mind draws a complete blank. You cannot remember the words you know. You are aware of the answer inside your head but you become too nervous of how it will sound once you speak out. Suddenly you feel your tongue is glued to your mouth and no matter how hard you try it won’t move. Have you been in such situations before? If the answer to any of these questions is a resounding yes then what you are suffering from is the inability to “untie” your tongue. In other words, do you feel tongue-tied?
This is indeed a very difficult situation. Many people face this situation every now and then. There are basically two reasons guiding this type of behavior- a lack of language fluency or a lack of confidence. In either situation, a person may have the right answers to all the questions, but there is no way they can cross the hurdle of their self-limitations. It is easier to give in to silence and later criticize oneself vehemently for an opportunity missed.
So now you know what is holding you back. But the real question is: what do you want to do about it? Are you comfortable with beating yourself up about your inability, or are you ready to take the first step in the right directions? Always remember, better performers get better opportunities in their life because they are better prepared for it. The absentmindedness, lack of memory, the apprehension from speaking or having cold feet happens when you are lacking in your practice to truly develop and sharpen you communication skills. But you need not worry! It is not something uncommon or something that cannot be rectified with a little practice. Below are some easy tips and tricks which can help you untie your tongue and get the words flowing.
Do you remember those old movies which would show the guy conversing with himself in the mirror before making the grand declaration of his love? That is actually a very good idea. Firstly, pick up a topic of your interest, something that you are well versed with and you enjoy talking about. You can jot down a few keywords of the topic in order to help you remember the entire thing later by just glancing at the keywords or phrases. Then stand in front of the mirror and read all the keywords aloud, slowly and deliberately, notice whether their pronunciations are correct and also make sure that these words will help you recapitulate the topic on hand. While you gaze at yourself, also notice any nervous tics that you may have.
Now, take a voice recorder; it can be on your computer or cell-phone or even your camcorder (the idea is to just record your voice which you can play back and listen later) and just start talking. Speak your mind and heart out about the chosen topic. Talk about your opinion on the matter, why you picked this topic; the good, the bad, the works – just about everything related to it. When you get stuck, to recall the important aspects you want to convey, take a glance at your notes you prepared earlier. Imagine you are talking to a person, trying to persuade him/her about something you’re passionate about. Remember to take your time when you start speaking – you do not have to rush through the entire speech. It has been noticed that speaking slowly has a hypnotic effect on the listeners, whereas a fast-paced speech is difficult to understand and impossible to relate to. Also, when you are trying to speak too fast there is a greater chance to get tongue tied. However, do remember that there is a thin line separating hypnosis and lullaby-effect! About 120 to 150 words per minute is said to be a good speed. Remember to breathe while you are talking. Anxiety tends to contract your throat and abdominal muscles which reduces your oxygen intake. This can make you sound squeaky or sharp. On the other hand, deep breathing increases the oxygen flow in your body and promotes relaxation. When you are relaxed, you will feel more confident too.
So step out of your cocoon and free yourself from your shackles of shame that is hindering your freedom of speech. Once you have poured your heart out, you will surely be curious to see how others perceive you. So now is the time to go back to the beginning of the speech and start listening. While listening to yourself, evaluate your performance as a neutral party. How do you sound? Are you too loud or too soft? Were you stammering or incoherent or were you the right degree of eloquence? While talking when you got stuck, how did you react to the situation? Did you have the presence of mind to ad-lib or were you filling up the silence with vague fillers. The latter is a term used to club together all the sounds and words that we sometimes use to fill a gap when our tongue is still translating the thought process. This is the impression that the other person gets about you – you are nervous, not very confident and may succumb to an anxiety attack at any moment. Not exactly the kind of impression that you were looking forward to creating.
Even though the process may seem like a lot of work, it will be worth it if you take the time to correct your flaws. This is also the age-old practice followed by some of the best orators of the world. The real trick is in knowing that no matter how flawed you think you are, no one is really perfect. And when you are with the right kind of people, even this apparent weakness can act as an ice-breaker. It is very important that you have faith in yourself and not live a life constrained by your self-doubts. As they say, live life king size!
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