Do you remember a time when you were asked to do a presentation or introduce yourself at a networking event… and suddenly you got tongue-tied and the words came out all choppy?

This is a common problem for people who are not skilled or comfortable with public speaking.

It can be a huge issue… especially these days when many of us need to be on camera doing presentations as part of our work commitments.

So, if you get tongue-tied, or start to stutter or stammer when you start to give a speech or are giving a presentation… Don’t panic – I’ve got you covered.

In this blog, I’m going to share five ways to increase your verbal fluency so these embarrassing situations won’t happen to you again.


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What is verbal fluency exactly? 

According to the encyclopedia of clinical neuropsychology, “Verbal fluency is a cognitive function that facilitates information retrieval from memory”. In simple terms, it means “the ability to find the right words at the right time”.

Verbal Fluency is like a car, the more power in the engine of the car, the faster it accelerates. In the same way, the more verbally fluent you are, the faster your brain can access the right words when speaking. 

Some of the situations where we really need good verbal fluency are: 

  • Job Interviews
  • Auditions
  • Press Conferences
  • Meetings
  • Presentations
  • And even going on that scary first date

The higher your verbal fluency, the easier it is to translate your thoughts into words. 

So, let’s jump into 5 ways you can improve this skill right now. 


TIP #1: Limit Distractions Around You   .

From a Neurological standpoint, limited verbal fluency is created because of an increase in your cognitive load. In other words, how much mental activity you are using to call up the memories that you need. This is the main cognitive process that affects your verbal fluency. 

The biggest problem is distractions. Distractions increase cognitive load on the brain, leaving less horsepower for verbal activities such as speaking. So, if you want to speak with a clear, fluent and calm voice – minimize all distractions that could throw you off your game. Turn the phone off, close the door, focus on your message and avoid multi-tasking at the same time if you can help it. 

The bottom line is this: Don’t allow distractions to make up mental space! 


TIP #2: Control Your Emotions 

When you get emotional, your verbal fluency decreases. Think of the last time someone criticized you or verbally abused you in some way. Most of us would get triggered and become quite upset or angry at this attack. When this happens, we get so upset, we can’t think of the right thing to say at THAT moment. Yet later on when we calmed down, we suddenly think of all these smart comebacks that would have been perfect for that situation and you kick yourself for not being able to say it when you really needed to. You see, negative emotions cause an increase in cognitive load that means less horsepower to use for speaking. This is one of the reasons I started meditation practice over 20 years ago, to learn how to have more control over my emotional state. There are some great free apps for this: Insight Timer is one, and Headspace is another. I recommend the ones with binaural beats, and guided meditation with music if you have a hard time getting your mind to be quiet. The more you practice, the better you get and the calmer and in control of your fluency you become! I have some great techniques you can use during stressful situations to help you calm down fast. Check out the other videos on my channel to help you with that. 


TIP #3: Rule Out Underlying Conditions

Some medical or psychological conditions may adversely affect your verbal fluency, such as ADHD, depression and anxiety. If you think you suffer from less than average verbal fluency, seek out some medical advice to rule these conditions out first. Many of these can be managed with diet, counseling, meditation and lifestyle changes. In fact, I had all those conditions myself for more than a decade and I thought that I would have to medicate for life! After struggling for years with depression and anxiety, I found out that I had far more control than I realized. When I implemented exercise, yoga and meditation into my daily routine, the symptoms completely disappeared. I still do these things on a daily and weekly basis, and I noticed that when I stopped or get lazy with my commitment, I don’t feel anywhere near as confident and calm as I do when I am staying consistent with my practice.


TIP #4: Know Your Topic     .

When speaking at a meeting or giving a presentation, one of the best things that keep your head cool and your body calm is preparation and knowledge. When you are knowledgeable about your subject, you will be able to call up information very quickly, as long as you have prepared well and manage to stay calm. Patience, practice and repetition is the KEY. So, practice speaking out your presentation as many times as possible, so it becomes part of your muscle memory. Once something is in muscle memory, it stays there just like riding a bike. You can call up that information automatically no matter what is going on around you. 


TIP #5: Use Beat Gestures    .

This is a great tip for anyone that needs to give presentations for work. Start using beat gestures. Researchers have found that beat gestures, which are small rhythmic hand gestures used during speech, can help increase verbal fluency. I think this is because when we are expressing ourselves with our hands, we are giving those fear chemicals somewhere to go and this prevents our body from freezing or wanting to run away. So, use your hands and your body when you’re speaking, because that will help you get out of fight or flight…faster. 


In essence, what we are talking about here is how much our brain has actually been affected by our mental stress load. 

Use these 5 tips to help you improve how fluent and smoothly you speak in ANY given situation… try them out today. 

Do not forget: Speak up. Speak out. Be ready to be heard because remember: YOUR VOICE MATTERS.