How to use the visual vocabulary of the visual cortex to improve your speech skills

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the inaugural session of the annual conference of the American Psychological Association, the world’s largest professional organization for psychologists. 

The sessions are held at the organization’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the conference is the perfect venue for an introspective look at the future of the field. 

In the opening keynote speech, psychologist and bestselling author Amy Cuddy laid out a few of the ways we can use the brain to improve our speech skills. 

Here’s how.1.

Identify what your problem is and make it a priority. 

You might think of the problem as being “in a situation where I am facing a particular issue that I need to solve,” Cuddy said.

“What you should be doing is looking at the visual stimuli in your head to identify what is going on. 

If you are in a dark room with no one else around, you might be able to identify some objects by looking at them, but if you are standing alone in a room, you are missing out on some of the depth.” 

Cuddy also points out that your brain needs to be stimulated to perform this task, which can be done with the use of auditory stimulation, visual stimuli, tactile stimulation, and even sounds. 

It’s no wonder that the brain tends to be “locked into one task,” she said.2.

Create a visualization that is “tangible.” 

There are many ways to use visual imagery, and each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. 

But, in the case of Cuddy’s example, a visualization of the situation that is tangible and understandable can help you focus on the task at hand. 

This way, you can focus on what’s important and not get distracted by the distractions.3.

Identical or contrasting images can be used in different contexts. 

Cuddys example, though, is one of those situations. 

She pointed out that it’s important to have the ability to think about the situation at hand while also working on the other aspects of your problem. 

“If you are not able to think clearly about what you are doing, you will find yourself in a lot of pain and confusion,” Cuddies said. 

 “In the past, we used to say, ‘The brain can’t process visual imagery,’ but in today’s world, visual imagery is an incredibly powerful tool for helping us process information,” Cuddle said.4.

Take a moment to consider what you have learned in the past. 

By doing so, you become better at identifying and applying new information. 

As a psychologist, Cuddy noted that, in her experience, people who have learned a lot in the classroom tend to “stick with what they know.” 

“If you have been working on something for a long time, it is very likely that you have gotten good at it,” she continued. 

“It is not uncommon to see a person who has been doing something very difficult for many years, and they come back to it with a completely different perspective, and it may even have a major impact on their life.” 


Practice and practice. 

Once you’ve mastered a skill, Cuddy said, you should continue to do it. 

The goal of this is not necessarily to “do it better,” but to become a better speaker, as you learn to think more clearly. 

Once you master a skill and become good at that skill, you “need to practice,” she added. 


Practice making new sounds.

 There is an important distinction between sounds you use in your everyday life and those you use for “tactical” purposes.

“A lot of people use their voices for tactical purposes, like when they are in the midst of an argument, to call attention to something,” Cuffys advice states. 

However, a sound you make while performing an action that requires attention to the world around you can be a powerful tool to help you in the real world.

And, for instance, you may want to use a whistle to communicate a message, Cuppys suggested. 


Get a visual reminder to listen.

If you find yourself “not listening” to a particular message, try a visual cue, such as a line from a movie, Cuffies suggested.

“When you see the image of the whistle or the line, think about it.

Think about what the message is, and why it is important,” she explained. 


Take some time to practice.

As Cuddy put it, it’s “a good idea to practice what you know and practice what is new to you.” 

If you need to improve at something, Cuz said, “practice, practice, practice.” 

You don’t need to do everything, but you do need to learn and practice, she added, adding that it may take several years for