What Causes Poor Speaking Skills? Common Causes and How to Overcome Them | Iris Reading
What Causes Poor Speaking Skills? Common Causes and How to Overcome Them

What Causes Poor Speaking Skills? Common Causes and How to Overcome Them

What Causes Poor Speaking Skills? Common Causes and How to Overcome Them

Poor speaking skills are caused by a combination of socially related problems, lack of vocabulary and grammar practice, fear of being criticized, and inability to pronounce words correctly. 

There are four language skills that a person should possess: listening, speaking, writing, and reading. 

Among these skills, speaking plays a crucial role as it is often considered a key indicator of one’s language proficiency. 

But what happens when you can’t develop sufficient speaking skills? Are poor speaking skills something that can be improved over time? What are the causes of poor speaking skills? How can you identify and rectify them?

In this post, we’ll discuss some common causes of poor speaking skills, their impact, and how you can overcome these shortcomings. 

What are the common causes of poor speaking skills?

Speaking is the most important language skill. Communication is significantly impacted by speaking. Effective speaking skill is crucial across various contexts-whether you’re in school giving a presentation or working in a corporate company, your speaking skills need to be impeccable. 

Several factors contribute to poor speaking skills.  We’ll look at these causes closely and see how they lead to poor speaking skills.

Lack of self-confidence leading to poor communication

Self-confidence plays a crucial role in speaking skills. Since speaking has an exclusive place among the other language skills, self–confidence is a significant facilitator in starting a conversation.

Lack of self-confidence can be both attitudinal and psychological, making it hard for you to speak in a foreign language or even your native language. 

Effective speaking requires a deep mental engagement, necessitating confidence and the absence of nervousness in social interactions. 

Anxiety and Nervousness

Another cause of poor speaking skills is language anxiety. This is a common phenomenon experienced by those learning a new or foreign language.

Due to its drastic impact on learners, language anxiety can decrease overall language proficiency, lead to reduced motivation when speaking, and encourage a lack of participation in activities that promote a focus on speaking.

Thus, the negative correlation between speaking anxiety and proficiency is significant. 

Language anxiety can also be defined as an unpleasant emotional state characterized by subjective feelings of worry, apprehension, and tension and by activation of the autonomic nervous system.

Hence, language anxiety impedes the development of solid speaking skills, which creates barriers to good communication.

Speech disorders 

Speech disorders can lead to poor communication skills. Speech involves the creation of sounds and words, while language is the utilization of words and the reception and expression of information by individuals.

An individual of any age suffering from such a disorder can have problems with articulation (which is the production of speech sounds), voice (the quality of resonance, loudness, and pitch), and fluency (the flow of speech and the rhythm).

Genetic factors

Genetics can play a significant role in shaping effective communication and speaking skills. As children mature, their vocabulary naturally expands. 

For instance, they typically acquire around 50 words by 15 to 18 months of age, eventually reaching over 50,000 words as they progress through secondary school. 

The role of genes extends to the development of brain cells and other neural structures critical for language acquisition and sound production during infancy.

Insufficient vocabulary 

Insufficient vocabulary is one of the causes of poor speaking skills. Vocabulary is a crucial component of any language as it forms the building blocks to share information, express emotions, and promote communication. 

A vast vocabulary promotes the development of all four language skills and serves as a stepping stone to fluency in the target language. Thus, vocabulary is crucial when developing oral communication skills. 

You may also like: 19 Fastest Learning Strategies to Expand Your Vocabulary

Lack of general knowledge about a language

Lack of knowledge about a language, whether it’s a new language or one’s mother tongue, can contribute to poor speaking skills. 

While grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation are essential, focusing solely on these aspects without gaining a deeper understanding of the language can result in less effective speaking skills. 

It’s important to strike a balance between these elements and having a comprehensive knowledge of the language to communicate effectively.

Fear of making mistakes

When speaking, you might be gripped by the fear of making mistakes.

The fear of negative evaluation when speaking in front of people, such as in a class or in front of colleagues, can lead to speaking anxiety and poor speaking skills. 


Lack of familiarity with word pronunciations

Proper emphasis on pronunciation is crucial during language learning or while aiming for fluency. 

Language expression is akin to sound, infusing vitality into vocabulary and grammar. Without accurate pronunciation or phonology, the language’s essence remains dormant.

Language skills mainly focus on three knowledge domains: vocabulary (lexis), phonology, and structure. 

So, disassociating phonology when learning a language is a significant contributor to poor speaking skills. It is just as crucial as lexis and language structure.

What are the effects of poor speaking skills?

Poor speaking can have so many dire effects on your life, depending on your situation and role. They can lead to the following:  

Poor workplace communication

Low-morale employees tend to have poor speaking skills compared to those who know how to carry themselves in the workplace.

For instance, you may be unable to communicate your interest and willingness to take on more responsibilities just because you can’t articulate your points effectively.  

Even if your company culture supports employees who shy away from voicing their opinions, you won’t be able to make a sustainable impact in the long run. 

Likewise, you may miss out on opportunities just because you couldn’t communicate your progress effectively. 

Triggers negative emotions

Inadequate speaking skills can trigger negative emotions that can affect your self-confidence. The apprehension of being ridiculed permeates various spheres of life. 

This is why poor speaking abilities have the potential to generate pessimism within, ultimately diminishing self-esteem and self-assurance.

Lack of influence

Speaking skills are compelling for professionals looking to advance in their careers. However, poor speaking skills impact the influence you can have on others.

Poor speaking skills can lead to ineffective communication, confusion, misunderstandings, and a lack of clarity.

On the other hand, sufficient or powerful speaking skills help you establish the credibility of your ideas through effective communication and authority, which enables you to build trust among peers.

How do I overcome poor speaking skills?

Overcoming poor speaking skills is doable, as long as you’re consistent and have the right mindset that helps you work towards developing better speaking skills.

Let’s look at some ways you can overcome poor speaking skills.

Learning new words everyday

Learning new words daily is a great strategy to widen your vocabulary and improve your speaking skills. Committing to a suitable target in the language you’re learning, even if it’s five words a day, can help you achieve better speaking skills.

You can use online apps, TV shows, novels, and much more to help you learn new words along with the context.

Learning words in context will help you retain words more efficiently, leading to improved speaking skills.

You may also like: 9 Reasons Why Improving Your Vocabulary Is Important.

Focusing on phonology

An extensive vocabulary is valuable, but effective communication becomes challenging if you can’t pronounce words accurately. This renders the effort spent on learning words futile.

So, when you’re learning new words, it’s best to practice them in a sentence so you know how to pronounce them correctly. 

You can also watch instructional videos to learn how to pronounce words effectively. 

Think in the language you are speaking

Many language learners initially think in their native language before speaking in the target language. 

For example, if your native language isn’t English, you might struggle to speak English if you’re translating from your native language.

Conversely, if you think directly in English, your ability to engage in conversations, respond quickly, and develop better speaking skills improves.

An excellent way to implement this is to keep a diary of the language you’re learning. This way, you can express your daily thoughts in the language, ultimately improving your speaking skills.

Our Effective Note-Taking course can help you while writing down ideas in your diary so you can think in the language you’re learning and improve your speaking skills.

Talking to yourself

While talking to yourself may look weird, it’s a great way to improve your speaking skills.

Stand in front of the mirror and speak loudly to see how you’re doing. Or, you could simply read a novel out loud. This might slow down your reading speed, but it will help to establish better speaking skills.

You can also record yourself and then listen to that recording to see where you might’ve made mistakes, used the wrong pronunciation, or looked for any other mistake.

If you need help reading fast daily, our highly effective speed reading tool can help you read novels faster, even when reading out loud.

Building the confidence

As discussed above, a lack of confidence is the most significant barrier to speaking skills. It also has a negative impact on your body language and how you present yourself.

The best way to work on your confidence is by viewing yourself in a positive light, encouraging yourself, and working on solutions instead of focusing on the problems. 

For instance, you can watch videos and practice to make yourself more self-aware. Self-awareness is the first step towards building confidence, which helps you to focus on your speaking skills and not shy away when speaking. 

Takeaway: Discover effective methods to enhance fluency and elevate your speaking abilities

Language learning is fun, but it becomes hard when you don’t put in the effort. Out of the four language skills, speaking is of utmost importance due to the impact it can make. 

Its ability to influence, persuade, and lend credibility to your ideas underscores its significance.

You can work on this skill in many ways, but the most important tip is to remain consistent and resilient. 

If you want to promote your productivity when improving your speaking skills, you can check out our Personal Productivity course.

The course is tailored to assist you in addressing your areas of weakness and honing them, whether it’s enhancing your speaking skills or other aspects that require improvement.

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