Speech preparation takes three stages: writing, editing and practicing its delivery. Writing is manly about what you say, but more effort goes in how you say it. In this blog, I will highlight important points of speech delivery or how you say it. When you practice it, one of the first things you need to make sure that people understand what you want to say. Clarity of your speech and clarity of your messages are absolutely essential. There is nothing worse than a gabbled presentation with an unintelligible accent. There are four main enemies of clear speech: a difficult to understand accent, rushed speech, lack of pauses and a quiet voice.
A difficult to understand accent is a problem
Accents can be very charming, but for public speaking your accent should be understood by your audience. When your accent is difficult to understand people stop thinking about the main idea of your speech as they try to decode your words. They might stop thinking about what you are trying to convey, and start thinking where you are from for example. Another thing is that a difficult to understand accent is associated with lack of education and low class. Thus, it even influences your credibility. On the other hand, when you speak clearly, not only you become a pleasant communicator, but it also enhances your image.
Many people tend to rush their speech. Someone who is uptight and tense, and shows signs of being unconfident and anxious will tend to speak rather more quickly than someone relaxed and laid-back. Similarly, a person who is extremely intelligent and bursting with ideas will often tend to gabble as the thoughts come tumbling out. The thing is that people understand what others are saying at a slower speed. There is nothing worse, when trying to impart a great deal of information to your audience (whether in a business meeting, a lecture room, a court of law or in a recording studio), than discovering that because you are speaking so quickly, very little of this information is being understood. Often the first thing that happens when a speaker is nervous and not at ease, is that he tends to gabble. It is always better to concentrate on speaking more slowly when addressing an audience, particularly if you are not speaking in your native tongue.
There will be times when it is necessary to change the amount of volume we use when speaking. In normal conversation, no effort or changes will be required. When communicating with an audience, however, the amount of projection of the voice (or loudness) obviously depends on the situation you are in: how big is the room, how many people are you talking to, how far away are they, are you inside or out in the open? When I started public speaking, I was afraid that people cannot hear my speech as my voice was very quiet.
Tools to achieve speech clarity
Make sure your pronounce and articulate words clearly. Record yourself and hear how others perceive your speech. I am Russian and in 2004 I recorded my first Toastmaster’s speech. I was shocked when I listened to it because even I could not understand what I was saying. I started elocution lessons with Linda James and in about three months my life had changed completely. My speech became clear, confident and powerful. I have decided that Linda’s method and teaching can be useful for people like me. I decided to write a book with CDs. The international success of the book led to producing eight apps, four paperbacks and five audio books in series Get Rid of your Accent. Two weeks ago we published a video course on Udemy entitled Get Rid of your Accent to provide a total solution for accent reduction online.
Our apps, books and the video course content cover main topics of speech
1. Learning how to pronounce English sounds using received pronunciation (RP) – RP is also sometimes called the Queen’s English, Oxford English or BBC English.
2. Articulation exercises to make your consonants clear and crisp;
3. Learning patterns of English intonation and vocal techniques;
4. Speaking in phrases rather than in separate words; knowing how to link words together.
5. 4Ps, Power, Pace, Pitch, Pace of your voice
More useful articles and tips on the BATCS Global website.