On Being Articulate

image credit: xkcd

As long as I can remember, I always want to be known as an articulate person. I’m fascinated by charismatic, persuasive people who seem to be able to catch your attention effortlessly. There’s something magical in expressing yourself in such a way that can induce physical reactions, be it a smile, a cry, or goosebumps.

I tried to teach myself how to be articulate. I read books about public speaking, I joined speech contests, I participated in debate club, all to persuade myself that I’m a good speaker. Articulate for me means that I can persuade people well.

Does it work? I have to say it worked quite well. It does come with certain downsides though. When you’re too focused on how you’d say something, you tend to forget that you actually have to say something. I don’t think I’ve talked too much bullshit in the past, but I sometimes hoped I wish I’ve spent more time exploring other channels to express my thought.

Being able to speak well to get buy-in can take you to your goal, but hovering too much on how you’d articulate something can make you lose sight of the goal: expressing something that’s actually valuable.

This also holds true when writing: is perfect grammar more important than making sure you have something actually worth writing?

As I grow older, I came to admire the beauty of calm articulation. Appreciating the fact big ideas don’t have to be presented in a brou-ha-ha manner. When you’re rushing to articulate your thoughts, you’ll get sloppy. You’ll feel the need to “go loud” instead of “go deep”. I know it first hand, because I still make the same mistake, all the time.

Being “shallowly charming” might work for some audience, but infatuation to ideas is evergreen than a cult of personality.

Nowadays, persuasive and charming speakers still fascinates me, but I like to think I’m a bit wiser to look into what’s behind the charm.

I’m more magic resistant now, I guess.