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Voice training for successful communication

Imagine a typical scenario, if it is not yet typical for you it certainly will be one day! ,… “So-and-so is sick today and so you will have to go and speak to our clients and fill them in on where we are up to with the project!”

Unless you have had some practise at Impromptu speaking then the majority of people’s reponses to that instruction is not one of delight … our body begins to respond to the request and we may manifest a number of physical manifestations such as sweaty palms, heart seemingly beating out of our chest, or brain freeze.

Now, there are a number of well-proven techniques that can help us very practically to handle the above, or similar, situations effectively. However, once we have quickly thought about what we want to say and jotted down some barely legible notes on our phone or bit of paper, we then actually have to vocalise those thoughts and ideas. It is at this point that we have to consider three key things …

Clarity … will people be able to clearly hear and understand what I am saying ?

Fluency … can I fluently and articulately express what I want to say?

Variety … can I speak in a manner that is not going to send my audience to sleep in a matter of a few moments ?

Difficulties with speaking -“Can’t breathe, talk or think!”

 

The whole subject of speaking is absolutely fascinating and difficulties in this area are so often not what they seem on the surface.

Absolutely we can have a difficulty with the distinctness of being able to say our ‘th’ sound or our ‘l’s’ and we need to work on those in order to have clear speech. However, we do have to come at speech work, at times, in a more holistic manner …

In another arena of life, people may experience financial difficulties which could be simply due to the loss of a job or a stream of income, but so often it can be more a symptom of a deeper issue ie. overspending due to lack of self esteem, an inability to budget and so some fiscal discipline and management is needed. Similarly, very often, this can be the case with regards to being able to confidently stand up and speak in front of others. The moment the spotlight is on us, if we are untrained and unskilled in this area, a myriad of thoughts and feelings can manifest which make it extremely difficult to function and do a great job.

Happily, I believe that there are some very practical ways through these difficulties …

Accent Softening – Clarity brings Confidence

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I love the English language! However, as a native English speaker I have the utmost respect for those endeavouring to get to grips with the language’s abundance of inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies. There is a wonderful, if rather long, poem called “The Chaos” (Anon) which charts the majority of the rebellious sounds and would challenge the most confident of English speakers!

My wonderful father-in-law spoke nine languages fluently but I couldn’t begin to get my mouth around the unfamiliar guttural sounds, diphthongs and triphthongs that he rattled off effortlessly in Dutch, Indonesian, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Italian, Spanish and German.

It is only with a great deal of practice and focus that ESL students can master the unfamiliar sounds that are ‘th’, ‘v’, ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘ch’ etc. However, there is no doubt that the investment of time, money and focus does reap great rewards as “Clarity undoubtedly leads to increased Confidence”. It makes the world of difference to my students to know that they can easily be understood and that there is no lid to their potential for promotion, job satisfaction and social interaction.

In extreme situations, our ability to be understood could be a matter of life and death; in more common situations it can save awkwardness, misunderstandings and even the loss of a job. As English continues to be one of the most widely spoken languages and the official language of the majority of nations we need to persevere with ‘The Chaos’ – Get rid of the lid!