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Public Speaking and Presentation

3 Reasons you’re Wondering “Why Can’t I Articulate My Thoughts Clearly?”, and What to Do About It

There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to articulate your thoughts. Whether you’re in a business meeting, a networking circle, or simply gathering with friends, you should be able to speak clearly and thoughtfully. Why can’t I articulate my thoughts clearly? It’s a good question to ask, and there are a number of reasons why you might be struggling. The good news is that there are plenty of things that you can do to improve.

Reason 1: You Suffer from ADHD

If you suffer from ADHD, there’s a very good chance that it’s undiagnosed. Additionally, asking yourself “why can’t I articulate my thoughts clearly?” is likely only one of many questions you might be asking. You might also be asking yourself “Why can’t I focus on one thing at a time?” and even “Why do I feel like I’m always rushing?”

There has been scientific research to show that children with ADHD are at risk for various articulation disorders. You may struggle with producing letter sounds appropriately or have issues with voice quality. It is common to produce a number of word fillers and vocal repetitions in the process of organizing thoughts. What happens next is similar to a stammer.

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When you find that you have difficulty organizing thoughts into speech, it may be a sign of ADHD. Most people are diagnosed with ADHD by the time they are 17, providing the necessary medication and treatment that is needed. However, the CDC also estimates that approximately 9.4% of the population are diagnosed, which means that there’s a 1 in 10 chance that it may be affecting you in one way or another.

Reason 2: You’re Not Clear on What You Want to Say

The struggle of “why can’t I articulate my thoughts clearly” may be as simple as not knowing what you actually want to say. You may have several thoughts going through your head. When you open your mouth to speak, the thoughts began to get muddled.

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It’s important to know what you want to say on a particular subject. If you’re eager to speak and have no idea what point you want to make, it will be clear as to why you can’t articulate your thoughts. After all, if you’re not clear on your thoughts, you won’t be able to articulate them clearly to others.

Reason 3: You’re Not Used to Communicating in Various Ways

In today’s day and age, there are plenty of ways to communicate. You can choose to communicate verbally or written. If you’re in a meeting or having a face-to-face conversation with someone, you have to communicate verbally.

If you’re communicating with someone who is not in the same room as you, you may choose to mail a written letter or send an email, which means that you’re using written communication.

Often, if you are used to communicating almost entirely in one form, you’ll struggle in the other. This is why many colleges and universities require students to take a speech course. It can help with articulation.

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Why can’t I articulate my thoughts clearly?

Think about this. You hide behind the computer all day long. You send out emails like no one’s business. However, the moment it’s time to speak to someone in person, you struggle. Why? You’re used to being able to take your time with an email. Now, you’re forced to respond on the spot without being able to think first.

There’s an alternative, too.

You might be used to talking to people. Your mind is running so fast that you’re accustomed to having conversations on the go. Suddenly, you have to write a letter or draft an email. You may have difficulty slowing down and debating on word choices. This makes it hard for you to articulate your thoughts in the written form.

Whatever it is, focus on getting outside of your comfort zone. Push to use a different form of communication.

5 Ways to Articulate Your Thoughts More Clearly

Why can’t I articulate my thoughts clearly? The question may be asked internally on a regular basis. And it’s frustrating. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to learn how to organize your thoughts when speaking.

I’m bad at articulating my thoughts, yet here I am providing advice. It takes hard work, but you can get there.

Listen to Yourself Speak

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Prepare a document that you know well. This can be something that you write yourself or that you are confident with.

Use a video camera to record yourself. This will allow you to listen to yourself speak while also gauging your confidence level.

How often do you use verbal filler like “umm” or “uhh?” These make it harder to understand what you’re saying.

How often do you stop and adjust your collar or pick at yourself in another way? This nonverbal communication can make it hard for people to follow what you’re saying because they’re too busy watching what you’re doing.

When you can watch and listen to yourself, it can make it easier to highlight what you’re doing wrong. As soon as you become cognizant of what is wrong, you can work to fix it.

Monitor the Speed of Your Voice

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The speed of your voice is an important thing to measure. According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the average English speaker speaks at a rate of 150 wpm. At 150 words per minute, it is a comfortable rate to speak and to understand.

If you speak slower than 150 words per minute, it can actually cause people to stumble on what you’re saying. The reason for this is because they’re forgetting what you said in the last sentence.

Similarly, if you speak faster than 150 words per minute, it can make it hard to grasp every word. People may be missing out on half of what you’re saying.

Often, when you’re struggling to articulate your thoughts, the habit is to speed up in speech because you’re nervous. The trick is to slow down.

A digital voice recorder that can offer variable speed playback will make it easier for you to record yourself reading text for a minute. Go back to see how many words you actually read to help you measure your wpm.

Speak with Greater Confidence

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Confidence is a big part of learning how to articulate your thoughts. If you aren’t confident with what you’re saying, you’re going to mumble or stumble on your words. Toxic thoughts can often fill your head.

The goal is to gain confidence so you can speak clearly. You have value to offer, so be sure people can hear and understand what you have to say.

I’ve found that the book by Jennie Allen, “Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts” was a great read. It made it easier to get the negative thoughts out of my head so I could focus more on articulating what I wanted to say.

Study Professional Speakers

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It can be advantageous to study professional speakers. Listen to the way that they pause periodically to gather their thoughts. Look at the way they stand when giving the speech.

You can learn a lot from the top speakers, including Gary Vaynerchuck, Tony Robbins, and Brene Brown.

Don’t focus on the topic. Instead, focus on the delivery. You may want to turn on the audio captions when available, too. This allows you to read along to see how they’re careful to enunciate certain words for a stronger emphasis.

Write It Out

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Especially when you’re going to make a presentation, it’s important to write out your thoughts. If you can’t write what you want to say, there’s no way to make it clear to your audience.

Think about each word you choose. Break out the dictionary or thesaurus to ensure you’re choosing the right words along the way.

Once you’ve written out what you want to say, read it out loud. Make sure that it sounds good coming out of your mouth.

Hand the written speech over to co-workers or a few trusted friends. Get their opinions. Be sure that the message you want to convey is clear.

Work on reading the presentation out loud several times before you go live. This way, you familiarize yourself with the words and with the thoughts. You can even bring the written version with you to ensure you stay on track.

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Remember, Practice Makes Perfect

Remember, when you find yourself asking, “Why can’t I articulate my thoughts clearly?” there’s always a reason for it. As soon as you figure out the “why” behind the issue, you can work on the problem.

Practice makes perfect. Don’t hesitate to buy a few tools. Figure out what works.

When you organize your thoughts and slow down a bit, you’ll find that you’re able to articulate more clearly. It can boost your confidence and ensure that you can add value to the conversations you have.

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