I’ve been working with a vocal coach to calm my anxiety and improve my speaking skills. Her name is Ita Olsen, and our work is paying dividends. When I was in Cuba, a colleague told me that I had a melodious voice.

I’ll take the compliment on my voice. The secret? I’m using fewer words.

I’m a writer. My communication style is established. I like to write stories and revise my sentences before I share something important. But writers like me are screwed because we get one shot to speak to someone. Real-time revisions don’t happen.

So that’s why I’ve been working with Ita Olsen to breathe, think, and speak correctly without a lot of pressure on myself.

It’s not easy to catch myself babbling, but it’s getting better. I’m using shorter sentences and fewer conjunctions.

Fewer words help a lot in life.

So here are two ways that I’m training myself to use fewer words. The first method? I’m recording quick anecdotes on my voice memo app, listening to myself, and practicing those stories using different word choices. I’m identifying where I pause (or don’t) and then making different choices. If you do that a few times, you’ll hear opportunities to use a period at the end of a sentence and stop talking.

I’m also using post-it notes to remind myself to use fewer words during conference calls.

Listen, progress is possible. I’m now communicating more effectively with clients. You can improve, too. It just takes a vocal coach, a little practice, and a willingness to be a good student.

Fewer words, baby. That’s one lesson from Ita that works, and she’s not even paying me to write this. I’m paying her for these lessons. Totally worth it!


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