Self-expression: How do you improve speaking and writing skills?

How Do You Improve Self-Expression Skills?

How Do You Improve Self-Expression Skills?

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April 13 2015 2:13 PM

How Do You Improve Self-Expression Skills?

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Do this, every day.

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Answer by John Ramos, owner of the Student Power:

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It's all about getting the message across, isn't it? In the last few months, I think I've improved my communication skills considerably. Here's what I did:

Write (almost) everyday. I committed to writing 500-1,000 words a day, whether on Quora, my blog, or my book. It forces you to find the right words and expressions to convey your message. You'll start to notice that some sentences are poorly built. Verbose and clutter become a constant concern. You start turning fragile suggestions into powerful affirmations.

Since you care about your writing, complement your training with reading these two sacred works for any writing enthusiast: Elements of Style and On Writing Well. They can be read in one afternoon that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Emulate your favorite authors' styles. Over time, you should develop your own style of expression, of course. Until I find my own, however, I like to go through the style of authors I admire and reverse engineer their methods. Felix Dennis, for example, the author of How to Get Rich, is a formidable storyteller. I admire his ability to tell fun and engaging stories with meaningful and informative content.

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Never lose a chance to speak in public. School presentations, impromptu speeches, speaking contests—there are tons of opportunities are out there. Whether the result is a standing ovation or making a fool of yourself, lessons on public speaking are best learned onstage.

And, in my opinion, the most important: Apply winning formulas. There are tricks to provoke an applause. There are secret weapons to make your points stand out. Pay attention to TED talks and famous speeches and you'll notice patterns:
  1. Technique of the three final elements. Caesar said Veni, Vidi, Vici. When wrapping up a speech, a sure way to get an applause is to finish with a triad. Imagine you were speaking to your team to motivate them for the next football match: “Guys, we'll step in this field, and we'll work together, suffer together, and WIN together.”
  2. JFK signature move. One of the most famous quotes by JFK: “My fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” A sure way of drawing applause from an audience is to reverse a sentence like this. If you were doing a speech for fundraising event for your school: “Fellow colleagues, our school has done a lot for us; I trust that today we'll do a lot for our school.”
  3. Spiral speech. A spiral speech is the one that is built around a sentence or idea. Take Martin Luther King, for example: His “I Have a Dream” speech was entirely built around that sentence. It's a device of incredible rhetorical power.

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