Sometimes our greatest learning lessons come from those “snapchat” moments after the meeting.
It was during one of these moments that a green light went off in my head due to shared wisdom from fellow Toastmaster and DTM, Frank C.. The conversation started off on how one prepares for a speech — but turned into a lesson on vocabulary.
Vocabulary consists of the words we understand when we hear or read them (receptive vocabulary) and words we speak or write (expressive vocabulary).
According to Judy K. Montgomery’s book, “The Bridge of Vocabulary: Evidence Based Activities for Academic Success (NCS Pearson Inc, 2007)“, there are four types of vocabulary: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Listening Vocabulary are the words we hear and comprehend. “By the time we reach adulthood, most of us will recognize and understand close to 50,000 words. (Stahl, 1999; Tompkins, 2005)”.
Reading Vocabulary is the second largest vocabulary if you are a reader and continue to grow your list.
The words we retrieve when typing or crafting our speech on paper is our Writing Vocabulary. It goes up with reading, but it’s biggest influence is our spelling ability.
Our Speaking Vocabulary is relatively limited. As adults, we use a mere 5,000 to 10,000 words to communicate vocally. We find it easier to communicate non-verbally and supplement interactions with facial expressions, intonation and hand gestures.
As Toastmasters, when we write our speeches and commit them to memory, we are actually mix and mingling our various vocabularies. We are attempting to use our greatest vocabs (reading and writing) as our speaking. This can create a bit of a challenge when trying to go off notes.
So how can we use our vocabularies to our best advantage? Here are a few tips:
- Memorize Ideas over Words
Memorizing the key points or messages you wish to convey helps to prepare your speech. Fill in the gaps with the info you know using your speaking vocabulary.
- Enhance Your Speaking Vocab
The Grammarian introduces a word of the day and highlights interesting usage throughout the meeting. This is not by accident. It is meant to “repeat” the words so that you get used to hearing them — and by osmosis, you will also use them.
- Take the Challenge Outside the Meeting
Sign up for a word of the day email from dictionary.com. Challenge yourself to use in conversations at least 7 times that day.
Understanding how we use words helps us to put our words to better use.
Have a phenomenal day!