Turn your accent into a public speaking asset with the help of these tips! [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]
Everyone speaks with an accent… and this is not just for English language users.
In every spoken language, each individual speaks with an intonation shaped by family, region, social circle, nationality, and personal preferences.
Having an accent is natural for all of us. As a speaker, you don’t have to worry too much about it during a public speaking engagement.
Anett Grant is a Canadian public speaking coach and CEO of Executive Speaking, Inc. When she migrated to the US to build her career, she was surprised that many leaders from the American South worried about their intonation.
In 2016, when Grant attended former US President Jimmy Carter’s speech at the Minneapolis Press Club, she approached the former US official to point out her observation.
“What do you think about having a Southern accent?”
As a response, Carter flashed Grant a big smile and said,
“Well, it got me elected president!”
Carter was satisfied with the way he spoke and his accent didn’t make him feel insecure in front of a large crowd. He knew that was a part of him and so he learned to make the most out of his way of speaking.
As a speaker, you should have that kind of attitude, too! Instead of being shy about your intonation or trying to change it, learn to embrace how you speak.
Your accent sets you apart from other speakers and gives you a distinct character!
However, you also have to be mindful about your intonation. Just because everyone speaks with different accents, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider whether or not your audience understands what you say.
Remember that your job as a speaker is not just to deliver your message to your listeners but also to make sure they get a good grasp of the main point/s of your speech or presentation.
If your accent―no matter how charming―makes it hard for your audience to understand you, then you have to improve the way you speak.
- Slowing down your pace or rate of speech. This means not only delivering your talk more deliberately but also articulating multi-syllable words more slowly and carefully to ensure your audience clearly hears what you are saying.
- Taking note of any word you frequently use that listeners find hard to understand. People with different accents such as British, Australian, German, etc. have a unique way of speaking that sometimes makes them sound like they are mispronouncing words.
For example: If your accent makes “shareholders” sound like “shoulders,” then you have to work on saying that word (and other words with the same set of vowels and consonants) clearly so listeners unfamiliar with your accent can easily understand you.
- Speaking with enough volume. An audience struggling to hear you will quickly lose interest in what you have to say. As much as possible, check the venue where you’ll be speaking ahead of time then conduct sound checks and mic tests. This will help you make sure listeners across the room can hear you loud and clear on the actual day of your speech or presentation.
- Avoid worrying too much about mispronouncing things. If you have a different accent because English is not your first language, you’re more likely going to mispronounce words once in a while… and that’s okay! That doesn’t signify the end of your public speaking career.
While differences in pronunciation are often noticeable, that doesn’t necessarily undercut your credibility as a speaker.
Take note that your job is more on showing the power and relevance of your concepts, thoughts, or ideas to your listeners, not just on perfecting your pronunciation.
Here’s the bottom line:
Never be embarrassed about your accent.
If English is not your first language, be happy that it is your second or third language! Being able to speak more than one language gives you an edge in a global economy.
So, don’t be shy or defensive if you have a distinct accent. Keep in mind that your speech or presentation is not just about you, your origin, or your chosen affinity groups, but also―and more importantly―about the message you have to deliver to your audience.
Another thing: Remember that your listeners are less interested in judging you as a person than they are in understanding what you have to say. This means…
Regardless of the accent you bring with you to the podium or stage, you have to make it part of your goal to speak with clarity, distinction, and conviction!
Be confident and satisfied with your own accent. Treat it as one of your assets when you conduct and prepare for your speech or presentation!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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