Speech Skills and Terminology

Speech Term Definitions & Index to Speech Lessons

Businesswoman giving a presentation in a meeting.
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This list of speech skills and terminology is part of the Speak for Success Course, a series of six speech lessons designed to help you shape up your speech so you will sound more professional.

Many of us have mastered the business look. We know how to dress for success and pride ourselves on our professional manners. We know how important a smile is and all those little niceties of business exchanges such as how to present a business card properly.

We're on top of our game - but we have sloppy speech habits that undermine our polished appearance and give potential clients and customers messages we didn't intend to send. How can you trust someone that looks like one thing but says another?

In this sense, the Speak for Success course is about completing the package, making sure that our speech matches our appearance and finishes off the job of impressing our customers with our professionalism.

Be aware that the Speak for Success course is not about learning English. It's about speaking English better so you can better communicate with others.

Want to start the Speak for Success course right now? Go directly to Lesson 1.

Below is a list of the various speech skills and problems covered in the course. For your convenience, this list of speech skills and terminology includes reference to the Speak for Success Speech Lesson each skill or term is a part of, as well as definitions of each term.

Clarity – Speaking clearly so as to be understood. Clarity is composed of several different related speech skills including projection, enunciation and pace. (Clarity is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 1, Speech Lesson 2 and Speech Lesson 5.)

Projection – Speaking loudly enough so that every member of the audience can hear what is said.

(Projection is part of every speech lesson.)

Enunciation – Fully pronouncing each syllable of each word with the proper emphasis. (Enunciation is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 1.)

Pronunciation – Correctly pronouncing each word. (Practicing pronunciation is part of every speech lesson in the course.)

Expression – Speaking with vocal variety and vitality so that the audience remains interested. The associated speech problem is speaking in a monotone - a real communication killer. (Expression is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 3.)

Pace – Speaking at a rate that is comfortable for the audience to hear and comprehend. (Pace is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 4.)

Fillers – Using meaningless words or sounds that distract the audience. "Um", "ah" and "you know" are especially common in North America. (Breaking the habit of using fillers when speaking is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 2.)

Slang – Informal language that is specific to a particular group. If you're not part of that particular group, though, you have no idea what the meaning is. (The problem of using slang is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 5.)

Buzzwords – Words or phrases that sound important but have become meaningless through repetition.

For example, in business "game changer" and "think outside the box" have been used to death. (The problem of buzzwords is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 5.)

Acronyms – Sets of initials used as shorthand to refer to particular phrases (such as CEO for Chief Executive Officer). (The use of acronyms is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 5.)

Active Listening – Participating in the act of communication by paying attention and letting the speaker know that you’re paying attention through activities such as mirroring and rephrasing. (Active listening is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 6.)

Stance – Presenting and maintaining an appropriate posture to facilitate communication. (Maintaining proper stance is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 6.)

Eye-contact – Looking the person or people you're speaking to in the eye for an appropriate length of time.

When speaking to an audience of more than one, it’s important to make eye contact with as many individual members of the audience as possible. (Making proper eye contact is covered in Speak for Success Speech Lesson 6.)

Click on the link for any Speech Lesson above to go to that Speech Lesson.