Have you ever listened to a brilliant speaker and felt captivated by the music of their speech, the poetry of their words and the resonance of their voice? Then they probably have that magical combination that we call eloquence.
Whether faced with giving a speech to an auditorium of thousands or simply addressing a group of co-workers, we all want to be able to express ourselves eloquently, because it’s in that special zone of eloquence, that communication magic can happen.
What does it mean to speak eloquently?
An eloquent speaker is someone who has mastery over how they use language. They understand it’s subtleties and nuances and can use it to communicate their message effectively and persuasively.
When we are in the throws of an eloquent speaker we remember the message they delivered and how they communicated it. Comparatively, it’s similar to hearing a sublime piece of music. We are delighted by the combination of notes, which, when played together, take on a meaning and beauty that transcends the instruments or the individual notes played. Great music can fill us with joy. The same is true when we hear an eloquent speaker. When they speak we want to listen, not because we have to, but because we want to.
How do I become a more eloquent speaker?
Learning to become an eloquent speaker is much the same as learning how to master an instrument. After all, effective communication is a skill just as much as playing the violin is. You don’t simply pick up the instrument and start playing. Instead, you start by learning notes and scales, understanding the basic principles and techniques. So to be an eloquent speaker we must go to the building blocks of the language: vowels and consonants.
Vowels allows us to express emotion
Vowels are a conduit for one’s emotion. If you are able to release your emotion into the vowel, it allows for the word to release its full potential. If we don't breathe life into our vowel sounds, then we risk sounding as lifeless as a piece of wood rather than as full and nourishing as a flower in bloom.
Using the vowels to share your feelings allows you to transmit emotion into your speech. You can think of it as putting colour and melody into your speech. Using your vowels in this way gives your listeners a chance to connect with you, and to come with you on the journey you are sharing. That’s how us human beings relate most of the time, through emotion. It’s what makes great speakers and orators so convincing and powerful when they speak. Their words have emotion, intention and impact. Using your vowels are a first great step to bringing more feeling into you speech.
Consonants are about efficiency and respect for the language
Consonants are a way of containing emotion and finishing off your thoughts. They make things more sophisticated, they show that we respect the language. If we drop consonants we can imply a lack of care and thought about what we are saying, the very opposite of eloquent speech. It’s therefore important to pronounce most of our consonants, particularly the ones at the end of a sentence or a thought.
The power of words
In poetry, we carefully select words to articulate our feelings and ideas. By using a distinctive style and rhythm, we are able to weave those words together that perfectly serve that thought or concept. The more sophisticated your vocabulary, the more options you will have to communicate your desired message. Take the word ‘eloquent’ itself. In that word, we hear a mixture of short vowel sounds and delicate consonants, which together make the word sound light and poetic. The word eloquent, sounds eloquent! An eloquent speaker will choose their words with care, understanding the power of words not just in what they mean, but also in their intrinsic musicality.
So when you are writing your speech, or indeed, speaking in an impromptu setting, tune into the artistry of words. Pick your words as if you were an artist trying to find the perfect shade to highlight a feature in his painting, or as a musician would hunt the right combination of notes to create a perfect harmony. Giving yourself time when writing and speaking to find that perfect word to articulate your idea will lift your communication to the next level.
This is not to say that overloading your speech with flowery language is the way forward. It is important, as with everything in life, to have quality not quantity, so take care not to over do it. A few carefully chosen words and images will go a long way.
In conclusion: Speaking with heart and mind
An eloquent speaker raises the level of communication to one that is persuasive, musical and sometimes magical. They have found a way to make their words and voice reflect their feelings and thoughts on multiple levels. From using their vowels and consonants, through to picking words that perfectly articulate their feelings and ideas, they have mastery over communication which gives them true power and influence as a communicator.