You want to move up the corporate ladder, but you sound like something out of “Hillbilly Handfishing.” So you need to sound articulate, which means improving your vocabulary. But where do you start? Here are a few tips:
Pick up a dictionary: The activist Malcolm X only had an eighth-grade education, but he taught himself untold numbers of words when he was in prison by reading the dictionary – and copying down every word. Now, that is an extreme example, but get into the habit of using a dictionary regularly to figure out words you do not know, and to thumb through and learn new ones. Using a dictionary regularly – whether an online one or an old-school book – can help you sound more erudite.
Use a thesaurus regularly: Instead of using the same words over and over, make it a point to look up synonyms – words that mean the same thing as other words – by using a thesaurus. You may discover a whole new world of words, instead of using the same old shop-worn expressions to make your point. With a thesaurus, you can also find antonyms, to express the opposite of particular words.
Read, read, read: The more you read, the better your vocabulary will be. A good start is by reading publications like the New York Times or The Economist, to name a few examples. Reading books is another way to improve your vocabulary. And if you read a book via a Kindle or some other eBook system, you can find out the definition of words you do not know just by highlighting them.
Listen to radio and TV programs that can expand your world: Sure, watching “Jersey Shore” is not going to teach you anything but slang to use, but watching PBS programs, the nightly news, and listening to things like NPR on radio will help your vocabulary. Not only will you learn more about the world, you will sound much smarter.
Try to learn one word a day: When former Major League Baseball pitcher Pedro Martinez first moved from the Dominican Republic to the United States to play baseball, one of his coaches helped him with his vocabulary, giving him new words each day to learn in English. Martinez didn’t just learn the words; he learned how to use them in sentences. Why not try to learn one new word a day? There are a variety of internet programs, as well as daily calendars, where you can do just that. Just one new word a day can help you sound more articulate in no time.