What Is Elocution (Examples + How to Practice)?

March 2, 2023

7 min read

What Is Elocution

Public speaking can be complex. There are tons of factors to juggle when you’re speaking in public: your body language, your filler word use, your clarity and word choice, and your pacing, among other things. 

Elocution is something you need to keep in mind when speaking anywhere, whether you’re at a podium or chatting with a coworker by the water cooler.

In our thorough guide, we’ll go over what elocution is, the history of the movement, elocution examples and hypotheticals, how to practice, and why this is important in the first place.

What Is Elocution?

Elocution refers to the ability to speak in public effectively. It also emphasizes the importance of correct, clear pronunciation

The word “elocution” is derived from the late Latin word for “expression” and “utterance” — elocutionem (nominative elocutio). 

A person’s elocution is the way they talk, including their speaking patterns. This can include reading aloud or speaking in public. In addition, it consists of the study of practical, compelling public speaking skills, as well as the style, pronunciation, tone, and grammar.

There are five main components of elocution are: 

  • Voice: How effective and clear the speaker is when expressing or speaking 
  • Inflection: The tone or pitch of the speaker’s voice (as well as the modulation)
  • Gesture: Body movements — especially with one’s hands — that the speaker uses to help explain what they’re saying or to emphasize something 
  • Accent: How a word, phrase, or syllable is emphasized compared to other words, phrases, or syllables that aren’t emphasized (when speaking about elocution, accent doesn’t refer to regional pronunciations like the usual meaning of accent)
  • Articulation: The correct pronunciation of words and speech sounds

With those five main components in mind, the three most essential aspects of elocution are: 

  • Correctly using the appropriate hand gestures when speaking
  • Enunciating words clearly
  • Expressing your words properly

The Elocutionary Movement

In the 1700s and 1800s, people became more interested in the notion of elocution (also known as “style”). Academics noticed that students didn’t have the necessary practical public speaking skills needed for their careers, so the idea of elocution gained traction in both England and the United States. It was often considered an art style. 

When studying this subject, students focused on the following: 

  • Managing their voice
  • Vocal production, which refers to the sounds of speech
  • Body language and hand gestures
  • Pronunciation 

The most well-known elocutionists were usually lexicographers (people who create dictionaries) or actors. Some examples of elocutionists include John Walker and Thomas Sheridan. Both Sheridan and Walker were actors in London and also created dictionaries in the later 1700s.

Elocution Examples

Here are some elocution examples. We’ll look at two hypotheticals to gain an understanding of elocution and what it can look like.

Elocution Example Hypothetical #1

Let’s imagine that the speaker comes to deliver a speech — a business presentation — in their pajamas. They’re also displaying bad posture by slouching and their hands are in their pajama pants’ pockets. 

As they’re speaking, they fail to use any body language — they aren’t smiling, using facial expressions, hand gestures, or making eye contact with the audience — and the message of the speech isn’t clear. 

They speak in a monotonic way, boring the audience, and they often use inflection incorrectly, raising their tone higher as if they’re asking a question when they’re really delivering a statement. On top of that, the speaker also has a hard time pronouncing the words in their speech.

With regard to this hypothetical , we could say the speaker’s elocution is poor and could use some work. 

Elocution Example Hypothetical #2

Now, let’s imagine another speaker. This speaker arrives to deliver their business presentation wearing business casual. They’re standing up straight as they go through the presentation, and often use natural hand gestures and facial expressions to compliment their speech.

This speaker’s pronunciation is crystal clear, and they have clearly mastered how to speak eloquently to an audience. Their inflection isn’t confusing, and at the end of the presentation, the audience fully understands the speaker’s message.

We could chalk up this hypothetical as a successful, excellent elocution example.

Elocution Practice

Elocution isn’t something that you pick up overnight. To practice good elocution, try an online speech coach like Yoodli.

Yoodli is an online communication coach that makes use of AI technology to thoroughly analyze a user’s speech. But how does elocution come into the mix?

Because elocution, at its core, is about successful, effective public speaking, you can practice elocution principles through Yoodli. Then, you can use the instant, personalized analytics to further improve your elocution. Here’s how. 

First, upload or record a video of yourself speaking on Yoodli. This could be a video of you practicing a speech, answering sample interview questions, or even just reading aloud. After you’ve done this, Yoodli will give you detailed AI analytics, including a complete transcript of your speech and metrics like your pacing, word choice, and your filler word usage, for example. 

For example, part of elocution is speaking clearly. If you use a lot of filler words, Yoodli will not only point that out, but also give you suggestions for improvement, such as using natural pauses to consider what you’re going to say before you say it. 

In addition to that, Yoodli also gives users coaching comments, since it’s a speech coach. The coaching comments can include the following: 

  • A summary of your key points
  • Contextual follow-up questions to improve your speech
  • Areas where you could rephrase or reword for clarity

Top 7 Places for Elocution Lessons 

Elocution lessons are meant to help folks improve their abilities. Although you can practice with a free speech coach like Yoodli, you can also take elocution lessons to then put into practice via Yoodli. 

Here are the top 7 places where you can take elocution lessons. 

1. Yoodli. Believe it or not, you can actually take free elocution classes through Yoodli. Although there are tutorials and videos directly on the Yoodli site, the platform also offers tons of free lessons and crash courses. 

Check out this course on how to improve your public speaking in just 10 minutes: 

To advance your elocution, use these tips to improve in just 10 minutes.

Yoodli even has elocution exercises, like “No Filler,” where users practice speaking and see how long they can go without using fillers. 

What Is Elocution
“No Filler” is just one of the exercises Yoodli offers to advance your elocution.

2. CambridgeshireElocution. CambridgeshireElocution offers a 6-week online program for users to work on their elocution with lessons every week. This option will cost you around £99 (about $119.15) for the entire program. Its specialty is Southern British English, so the courses will focus on neutralizing other accents and improving public speaking confidence. 

3. Ashley Howard. Ashley Howard, a voice coach, offers elocution training to anyone, including those looking to learn how to speak eloquently for non-native English speakers. An initial assessment — as well as awareness, clear speech, repetition, impact, confidence, emphasis, rhythm, and pitch — are all things you can expect from his lessons. He offers both face-to-face and Zoom classes, as well. Although prices aren’t listed, you can contact Howard through his site to get a quote for his lessons.

4. Udemy. Udemy also has a handful of elocution lessons, from British received pronunciation to children’s elocution and correction courses. However, to access these lessons, you’ll have to pay. Courses range in cost from $199.99 to $14.99, so if affordability is a factor, receiving free courses from a platform like Yoodli is your best bet.

5. ExecutiveLanguageTutors. This site has elocution lessons that users can pay for. Subjects touched on in the classes include voice care, speech exercises, lip shapes, speech sounds, and refinement. Although you’ll have to pay for your lessons, ExecutiveLanguageTutors do offer a free trial.

6. SkillShare. This particular SkillShare crash course class focuses on both confident speech and elocution. There are five lessons within this crash course, which lasts just 26 minutes. Although SkillShare does require a paid subscription in order to take the course, users can sign up for a free trial to explore SkillShare’s offerings. 

7. FAT.lk. FAT (Find a Teacher) has a collection of elocution teachers that teach both in-person and online classes. Users can learn English as well as elocution through some of these courses. Most of the courses aren’t private lessons but rather small classes with others. The cost will depend on the instructor and the class. 

Why Is Elocution Important? 

Elocution is incredibly important because it’s vital to successful public speaking. The point of speaking is to convey a message, and that message can be muddied and confusing if the speaker lacks elocution. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re delivering an official speech, giving a business presentation, or just taking part in some everyday small talk — elocution is essential for getting your point across. You can’t consider it effective, compelling communication if you have poor elocution.

The Takeaway

Elocution is a necessary component of public speaking. To be a successful speaker, you need a strong elocution foundation.  

Everyone can improve, no matter where they are in terms of their speaking skills. To work on your elocution, Yoodli’s AI speech coach is the best (free) way to do so. There’s no downside or risk to using Yoodli to practice your elocution. 

Although it’ll take a bit of work and dedication, you can elevate your skills and take your public speaking to the next level by building your elocution. 


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