There are four different types of speaker you can be—incoherent, coherent, articulate, and eloquent. Of course, one should strive to fall on the latter end of that spectrum, which means having a mastery of communication skills that influence and persuade through effective language and body language. Being eloquent has advantages beyond the obvious. Eloquent people sound smarter regardless of their actual intelligence. The opposite is also true. So even if your intelligence is off the charts, if you communicate incoherently, your brainpower simply won't be perceived by whoever's listening.
Wherever you think you fall on the speaker spectrum, the good news is that eloquence can be taught, practiced, and mastered. In a recent article, Business Insider broke down simple steps you should take to make yourself more eloquent. So if you want to sound smarter, make the following techniques a habit whenever you communicate.
Be purposeful with your body language. While you're speaking, your body can often say more than your words. Make a habit of being purposeful in the way you carry yourself. First, the position of your back can greatly impact the body language you project. Slumping in your chair suggests a lack of confidence, whereas the other extreme, overly rigid and straight, gives an unsettling feeling of "fight or flight." Keeping your spine straight but relaxed, with your head up, puts you in the right physical and mental state to say what you want to say calmly and effectively. Use your hands to give emphasis to key points and even consider moving your body (inclining forward if you're sitting or moving to another spot if you're standing) to lead the listener from one concept to another.
Be mindful of your audience. Pay attention to the people who are listening to you. Don't let your eyes wander around the room or look down. Also play to your audience. Avoid language your audience might not understand, opting instead for words that effectively communicate without becoming esoteric. Big words will only convolute your communication and make you sound like a snob instead of smart. If you do need to use an unfamiliar term, define it clearly.
Use pauses to create emphasis. What you don't say can be just as important as what you do. Incorporate brief pauses within your talk to create suspense, bring emphasis to something, and give your audience a moment to reflect on the importance of what you've just said.
What tricks do you practice to better your communication skills? Spill your secrets in the comments then head over to Business Insider to read the full list.