The Art of Articulation – A broader perspective

Articulation by definition refers to acts of joining together or being joined together. However, in the present global context, it is something very much more far-reaching and phenomenal. You can articulate a series of words, or skills of an individual or a group. Articulation is not limited to those either; but can be extended far beyond to cover an unlimited array of spheres to achieve big gains in our work places, day-to-day lives personally, as a community, as a nation and as a global village, as will be illustrated with true-to-life examples later in this article.

Articulation is an invaluable skill and a trait that every leader should possess. It flows through exceptional self-motivation; and is highly inspirational. Some say that articulation is born rather than made. This extraordinary talent can be nurtured and perfected with a little trial and error. As you begin to exercise it effectively, the effects of articulation can be highly significant and overwhelming.

A good orator coins certain words selectively and artistically to give maximum expression to the ideas that he or she wants conveyed to others. The same can be said of writers, politicians, motivational speakers, marketers and leaders in business concerns, not to mention toastmasters and the like who make rave speeches at weddings and similar private social gatherings.

Verbal Articulation: When you address an audience, nine times out of ten, it is likely to be for marketing a product, service or a concept. The importance of proper and effective communication cannot be under estimated in the present context of the world. To take your message undiminished to the others, a masterful command of the language with a rich vocabulary of choice words and phrases is imperative. A gift of clear expression backed with appropriate body language can accentuate and complement the cause greatly. If the audience cannot understand what you say, or if they miss even a few words or phrases here and there, your message is completely lost on them, however dynamic or well crafted your presentation is. A message lost is business lost. Hence, the need of the hour is to articulate – to ensure that every aspect and every segment of your act works perfectly to convince and inspire others in achieving your goals and objectives.

Poor articulation can occur due to certain reasons as mumbling, speaking too softly or with an accent, or owing to your voice trailing off at the tail end of sentences due to running short of air in your lungs. Important matra is to take a full breath and then talk. Moreover, keep your feet firm on the ground and see the difference. If you get to feel that your speeches are not having that expected punch and impact on your audiences, getting a few of your speeches video taped and played back would enable you to see and hear yourself exactly as others do. May be you can have a friend look at your expressions or use a mirror. “Leadership Presence” book by Kathy Lubar will come in handy. Hopefully, you will immediately realize any lapses and shortcomings, which should enable you to take care of them once and for all, and rectify your act to perfection.

Articulating to help Others to Articulate:

The capacity to “listen beyond the words” is a trait that every successful leader should try to cultivate.  Salvaging truths and seizing ideas from your partners/teammates/clients/customers of which even they may not be consciously aware is a rare skill that will enable the leader to help them also to articulate better and go up the ladder to an extent even they would never have dreamt possible.

Let’s now walk through a few true-life examples:

Articulating different skills, talents and qualities of an Individual:

In a beauty contest, the organizers state the minimum entry requirements for contestants with regard to age, height, weight etc. Some bookmakers and promoters may even go to the length of giving opinions as to the best likely formula mix that would fit the winner, based on all the quantifiable characteristics. However, sometimes a complete outsider takes away the crown confounding them all. Now how does that happen? Obviously she had articulated her other skills and talents (that cannot be easily quantified) like, charm, poise, body movements such as walking, holding up the head, confidence, voice, talk, smile, gaze, intelligence, education, overall personality, body language etc. to more than compensate for what she would have lacked in other more generally apparent and easily quantifiable aspects.

Articulating as a Team:

Take the cases of motor racing and horse racing. The best racing driver or the best jockey does not necessarily win every race; neither does the best machine or the horse. It depends on how well each team articulates and synchronizes while efficiently managing the track too. The teams being not composed of humans only is of special significance here.

Professionals With Exceptional Skills of Articulation:

We see very often how the course of justice is impacted by the art of articulation through clever cross-examinations and argumentations of attorneys in courts of law. Same is the case for personal branding specialists. A very lucrative market exists for all types of professionals with exceptional skills of articulation.

Articulation in Martial Arts:

In many martial arts such as Judo, Wrestling and Karate, you are taught how to transform your relative physical weaknesses to strengths through the precise articulation of leveraging, angling and timing of your actions to fell your adversaries.

Articulation with a Group of Nations:

More than for individuals and small and medium scale businesses, articulation can bring tremendous rewards for industrial giants and nations too. You can articulate at international level for better markets and prices for one’s country’s products and services and/or for obtaining loans and finance at better terms and rates by forming an organization comprising a group of countries with common interests; and very often drawn from a common region too. The EU (European Union), AU (African Union), APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), G20 & G77 (Group of 20 & 77 respectively) and Paris Club are few examples of such organizations.

Articulation of Space Travel Using the Gravitational Pulls of Different Celestial Bodies:

You can traverse millions of miles over months and years through space with only a token fuel supply. It is made possible by articulating to let your space vehicle to be guided by the gravitational pulls of different celestial bodies from time to time throughout the journey. Fuel is used only at very rare intervals to fire one of few differently angled jet engines to change course to “freefall” from one celestial body towards another. If fuel had to be consumed for space travel from beginning to end, it would have been a non-event.

Leaders need to think beyond verbal articulation. That’s what matters in the current business environment.

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