In an age of globalization and digital communications, the ability to articulate ideas has become paramount. Even with the use of body language and direct interaction, articulation is a two-way street in communication, as you seek to adapt the means of your articulation to the communication style of the recipient. When you add impersonal communication to the mix, the way you articulate your ideas is magnified in importance, and the goal becomes to be as clear and concise as possible.
Form the idea you wish to express fully in your mind before articulating it. Without a fully realized idea, the concept you are trying to get across will also be incomplete. Pausing a few moments before articulating your thoughts can firm up the concept you want to express, and help to paint a much clearer picture.
Identify the key themes and messages you wish to get across. Efficient articulation of ideas relies on clarity and concise communication of the key themes within the idea. Knowing what those themes are allows you to communicate them effectively and avoid the trap of sidetracking yourself or going along tangents. Once you express the core concepts and positions, you can add more detail as needed.
Seek to understand your listener's point of view. Gauge the opinions, background and viewpoints you may encounter as well as the person's style of communication. This is a valuable tool for articulating in a way others can understand; just because you communicate does not mean you are automatically understood by others. Learn how to reach the audience you are targeting with your idea, and articulate it in a fashion tailored to them. This also entails letting go of your own preconceived notions and being open to new points of view.
Encourage feedback in the people you are articulating your idea to. Engage your listener and be open for reinterpretation of your idea to suit the target audience. On-the-spot feedback can be an invaluable tool for honing and shaping not only the articulation of your idea, but potentially the idea itself.
Exercise your vocabulary. Vocabulary is like a muscle; exercising it causes it to expand and get stronger. Learn new words to more efficiently articulate the idea you are trying to communicate. It does not mean searching out overly complex words, but using effective words that can sum up an idea clearly.
- An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book 3; John Locke; 1690
- John Alston Presents; Be Articulate: Learn to Express Your Thoughts With Clarity; John Alston; February 2006
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