English Communication Confidence Blog

Mastering Fluent English: Strategies to Overcome Hesitating

Jun 08, 2023

Speaking with clarity and confidence is essential for effective communication. In fact, it's a sure sign of your fluent English. While some individuals naturally struggle with saying "um" and "ah," there are techniques that can be learned to enhance speech fluency. In this blog post, we'll explore four practical tips to help you improve your English fluency and overcome any hesitation you may still have when you speak. By implementing these strategies and dedicating time to practice, you can communicate more efficiently and courageously.


Mastering Fluent English: Strategies to Overcome Hesitating


The first thing to consider when mastering your fluency and effective communication is to avoid rushing. There is a misconception out there that speed equals fluency. You've got to change your thinking if you believe this is true. When you rush through words and miss important punctuation in your voice, you also miss the opportunity to speak with poise and clarity which is something I know is important to you. And guess what? This kind of hurry can increase the likelihood that you'll stumble. To overcome this, it's crucial to slow down your speech. By deliberately relaxing your pace, you allow yourself time to breathe, gather your thoughts, and articulate words with precision.

But it's not just about slowing down while speaking. You'll need to practice thought chunking. Remember that Thought Chunking involves breaking down your speech into manageable sections or groups of words. Pausing not only helps you with your thinking, but it also helps the listener understand your message more effectively. By implementing Thought Chunking and taking intentional breaks between these groups of words, you can improve the overall flow of your speech, avoid rushing, and give your audience the idea that you're speaking slowly. It's a cool trick! 


Avoiding certain words is very common for people who stutter, and I know from my learners that many non-native English speakers also experience this workaround whereby they stay away from words that they know are challenging for them to pronounce. But, did you know that this avoidant behavior can intensify the fear and anxiety surrounding speech? Instead of circumventing certain words, it's crucial to gradually expose yourself to them, desensitize yourself, and build confidence in your abilities to say them. After all, no one is perfect and that means your English doesn't have to be either. 

Start by identifying words that you find particularly challenging. Create a list of these words and practice saying them aloud in a supportive and non-judgmental environment. Begin with slow and deliberate pronunciation, gradually increasing your speed and fluency over time. Celebrate small victories along the way and keep challenging yourself to take on the tougher and tougher words as you gain confidence.

Additionally, you can look for a support group, like The American English Speech Society, where you can share your experiences and learn from others facing similar challenges. Surrounding yourself with a supportive community can provide motivation, encouragement, and valuable strategies for improving your speech and minimizing the times you try to avoid certain words. 


Another way you can enhance speech fluidity and stop hesitating is to look to transition words. Transition words play a vital role in connecting ideas and creating a more fluid speech pattern. Leveraging words such as "however," "therefore," "in addition," and other conjunctions can help you smoothly link sentences and concepts, show off your thought chunking skills, and in the end, get you to reduce the chances of stumbling over words.

Practice incorporating transition words into your speech by consciously using them during conversations, presentations, or even daily interactions. Initially, it might require some effort and conscious thought, but with practice, it'll become a natural part of your speech. Pay attention to the impact of these words on your overall fluency and how they not only help you convey your thoughts more effectively but give your listeners clear signposts about where you've been and where you're going in your speech. 

And if you'd like to read more on this topic, have a look at another one of my blog posts about transition words.


Too often, we believe that we should know/remember every word in our second language and have it readily available to us the instant we need to use it. But, did you know that even in our first languages, our brains don't always respond with this kind of precision? And do you know what we do very easily in our first languages? We describe the word, we ask our listeners to help us find the word, or, we simply pause and let the audience know that we are recalling the word we're looking for. Have you ever done that in your native tongue? I'm sure you have. Yet, if you're like I am with my Portuguese, we hesitate, add in those ums and ahs, and don't give ourselves the permission we deserve to get back on track.

Next time you find yourself hesitating because of a vocabulary word, try saying, "What's the word I'm looking for?" Or, you can describe the word by saying, "You know the word I'm looking for, it's a way of saying that something is very large..." It doesn't matter what's causing you to forget. What matters is how you're going to stay calm and collected knowing that you belong in the room and that you own your English. Because you do!

So, in conclusion, improving your English fluency and overcoming speech hesitancy requires dedication, patience, and consistent practice. By implementing the four tips outlined in this blog post—avoiding rushing, minimizing word avoidance, focusing on transition words, and engaging your listeners—you can enhance your fluency, build confidence, and communicate more effectively. Remember, progress takes time, so be patient with yourself and celebrate each milestone along the way. With perseverance and practice, you'll be well on your way to mastering fluent speech and communicating with clarity and conviction.

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