practice, and pause.
listen not with purpose to respond but to hear the other person, and allow silence before responding.
say what you need, not what you ought. that is, avoid cliches in standard context. cliches are fine, but only when you warp the metaphor in a new way. “like shooting fish in a barrel” generally refers to something as easy, use it to mean a frivolous and pointless task.
more bluntly, to be well spoken you have to make people enjoy listening to you. to be a pleasurable speaker, you have to be interesting. to be interesting your words must be acceptable, tacit, and short.
people will stop listening if you sound pretentious/verbose, ignorant, or alien.
do not use broken analogies/comparisons. do not say “a is like z. b is like y.” the declarative statements are not meaningful, and often require cliche premise of how z and y relate. also punctuate with clarity as needed. for example “life without you would be like a broken pencil; pointless.” the addendum helps direct and communicate when the metaphor itself might be lacking. this allowing yourself to be wrong, recognizing it, and taking it in stride will make you sound far better than whatever “moral justice” you could inflict by leaving the confused person confused. well spoken people need not posture.
… (commenting about other people’s advice)
a person bellow says “succinctly”, but do not use words you can’t express in other medium. do not write a word you can’t say/pronounce. do not say a word you wouldn’t be able to write correctly the first time you hear it. imagine every person in the conversation is an 8 year old.
another example is ‘bourgeois’ which is pronounced ‘boozhwa’.
“well spoken people are not long winded” yes, we are. take the time you need to express the thought, don’t jam it all into one sentence; to speak abruptly is often to speak poorly.
a different person says “acquire articulation for accuracy”; don’t. that makes you verbose. for example, a league may be 3 miles, and a furlong may be 1/8 of a mile. don’t use them unintentionally. “a league of men; 10 thousand shoulder to shoulder, a bloody line for the blood line…” is fine. “we went 6.3 leagues” is not; ’19 miles’ is better than ‘6.3 leagues’. in general avoid ostentatious terms- if you have to look it up, it’s poorly chosen.
yet another mentions speaking slowly. being verbose or intentionally confusing makes you pompous. speaking slowly makes you seem like an asshole. if you are dealing with someone who speaks english as a seccond language and it takes the person a while to decode, don’t ask if the person wants you to speak slower. there is a difference between speaking slowly and allowing the other person have a moment’s silence. asking if the person needs you to speak slowly is attributing a character flaw to the other person, it is better to be okay with the silence and if it gets a bit long, to ask what part you expressed poorly.
one last thing, if you seek to speak eloquently. try to make the person you speak to feel like the smartest person in the room. if you attempt this approach don’t ever project verbal guilt:
* “i don’t think that means what you think that means”
* “well what i said has obvious meaning”
* don’t use rare words unintentionally.
* tend toward repeating yourself at least once using different terms.
* assume the error was made in the expression, not the interpretation. approach and speak from your audience’ perspective.