People the world over are working on their verbal communication skills knowing that, without excellence in these areas, success and fulfilment in life may be limited. Much of life is certainly about how we interact and build rapport with others; and oftentimes this must be with people of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds to us. So, what ought we to be working on as “global communicators”?
I worked with a Russian lady in London some years ago who was totally confused as to how the English language should sound and be spoken. Having been educated in America and having lived in Switzerland, London, Yorkshire and various other places in the world she did not know what was correct pronunciation. Indeed, every geographical area has its own distinct accent, colloquialisms and individual nuances.
A prerequisite to being a “global communicator” is certainly to be a good listener – so gaining some understanding of the culture, influences and interests of a particular friend, colleague or neighbour. However, what we absolutely cannot do without is clarity of speech. This is not necessarily about RP (received pronunciation) or Queen’s English, it is about whether my speech is intelligible? Can I be easily understood? Is my speaking clear? How often am I asked to repeat myself?
A quick win in achieving greater clarity of speech is considering the pace at which we talk. For most of us our difficulty is speaking too quickly (especially when nervous) making clear diction impossible and making it hard work for our listeners.
Our next consideration is how precise and definite we are in articulating the sounds that make up the words that we speak. Try saying “Peggy Babcock” ten times faultlessly! For this, we may need some help with the correct placement of our organs of articulation and some serious tongue twister exercises.
So next time you are doing a presentation, a speech or just talking with a group of friends … don’t ignore the puzzled expressions or the drifting off to sleep… take a breath, slow down, take time to say your consonants and find your communication skills improve one-hundred-fold!