So I'd love to get your answer to a quick, burning question that I have. It should only take you a few seconds. It's a broad question and write whatever comes to mind.
So I'd love to get your answer to a quick, burning question that I have. It should only take you a few seconds. It's a broad question and write whatever comes to mind.
I don't know about you, but I've been mapping out what I want to get better at as we head into 2018. Making more interesting videos than just my talking head--with things like text overlay, annotation lines, and moving objects. Running webinars that will help the people I serve. Possibly you.
My question for you is whether you can relate with respect to your spoken English. Is it good timing for you to concentrate on your spoken English so that you can communicate with even more clarity, ease, and efficiency? Where what you say aligns with your intentions.
During each 3-hour session, I will
At the end of this no-nonsense engaging English Pronunciation Skills for Professionals program, you will be able to better
Someone recently showed me an app where you can play a scene from a movie. A character says one or two lines and you can then click the record button and copy what the character said, to then hear what you recorded.
The one problem with this app—and others I’ve seen on the market—is that they offer a variety of cool things you can do in English but they simply go horizontal.
These identify this tasks help keep your English speaking brain active and they’re great to help kill time when waiting for the metro or plane, or minutes before (or during) a meeting. But there's a limited level of engagement with what's before you. Your attention is sort of going horizontal. Can I get the next article in the next sentence? What does this one word in the list of synonyms mean? Let me see if I can distinguish between the /r/, /l/, and /n/ in the next set of words. Some of this may push you to dip a little to get a better understanding about some word or grammar/pronunciation point, but then you're onto the next thing. Going horizontal.
To steadily work towards adjusting your spoken English for real-time, spontaneous situations—like a presentation, interview, or holiday party just around the corner—I suggest also going vertical.
Vertical is where the human comes in. A process of depth is added to the equation. Any human trainer or instructor is going to have his or her approach but it will be—or should be—one they’ve carefully thought through, experimented with, and worked out. They’ve worked through what makes sense and works for them--and the people they help.
In my world: Vertical =
Yes, I'm human. I provide customized 1-on-1 programs for professionals who ultimately want to be better understood in spoken English. They want to share their ideas and engage with the people they need to reach for their professional success.
I’m also offering a 6-week English pronunciation skills for professionals program, starting this Thursday, November 16th.
Shoot me a note below or email me to let me know how I can help you.
It's true. Paying regular active attention to how you're speaking in English will help you to get in the habit of adjusting your spoken English a bit when someone asks you to repeat or clarify.
I recommend practicing a little every day. Read a paragraph or a slide deck. Read out loud in small chunks. Record yourself and listen. Join friends and sing karaoke. Whatever it takes. Consistency is key.
Vowel sound enunciation. Don’t mumble.
Speak from the diaphragm. Steadily produce your volume from the beginning to ends of your sentences.
I’d say that within each of these features, there’s room for accent—that is, your first or second language influence. This isn’t about reducing your accent but simply about paying attention a bit more when you are communicating in spoken English with speakers of different language backgrounds. Paying attention to these 10 features daily will help you to flip the English speaking switch when an occasion calls for it. Perhaps for a presentation, client meeting, or interview. That’s it.
Join us starting next week for our 6-week English Sound System Studio: A Chicago Loop English Pronunciation Skills for Professionals program. I promise. It’ll be informative, engaging and group supportive with step-by-step guidance each week.
Voice. It's important and very personal. How you voice or articulate what you have to offer (your product, service, personality, information) is incredibly important. It needs to be received in the workplace for things to get done efficiently. The less effort there is the more that gets done with more ease.
How's your spoken-English voice? Is what you have to offer being delivered and received with ease?
Let me be clear from the start: At the end of this course, you will be able to
What we’ll do is get into the English sound system. We’ll break it apart because like any language, it's a system with its own set of cues. I’ll share a number of techniques that I’ve picked up from others and developed on my own while working intensively with the English sound system over the years.
With the group, you'll develop a solid vocal foundation (e.g., humming—see my last post) and steadily integrate the layers of speech features that we cover into real-time spontaneous speech.
How we practice these features will be informed by what YOU need to do in English. Before we begin the program, I’ll learn from you what you need to do. Deliver a presentation? Interact in an interview? Engage in small talk at a networking event? I’ll then customize the program to include practice tasks that will help you.
Clarity drives information retention and human interactions. You may be selling yourself—or whatever it is that you’re talking about—short if you’re not careful.
Need a little clarification about my upcoming 6-week program English Sound System Studio? Please, drop me, Sarah, a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below.
I recently ran a program for a group of 18 adults from China over this past month. All of them had studied English for a number of years. They were fairly fluent and had a pretty good range of vocabulary under their belts. They are here in Chicago for a 3-month delegation program. Working with me on their spoken English was the first leg of their overseas training journey.
Hands down, the intensive vocal humming exercise that we did on day 1 reaped the most benefits. I heard an immediate vocal shift connectedness that carried them steady throughout this speech program. Not only did I hear a stronger sound, that which in the U.S. typically translates as "confident," but a couple of participants came up to me at the end of the day and expressed feeling more confident to speak in English. They explained that humming helped them to break through a discomfort they felt due to being displaced from the familiar. Concentrating simply on producing a steady humming sound from word to word helped them to focus on their voices, and not on their new surroundings.
Look at the text below as you listen to my audio recording. Can you hear the "humming in the background" sound that I demonstrate? If you can't hear this, feel free to send me a note. I'm always interested in hearing how people hear sound produced in language.
Can you produce this humming in the background sound between words? Again, feel free to send me a note.
Interested in receiving downloadable handouts, accompanying audio/video recordings, real-talk speech tips, and occasional program updates about what we're offering? Go ahead and sign up. You can always unsubscribe if it turns out to just be more noise in your inbox.
What's your line of thinking when it comes to speaking in front of audience, or anyone for that matter?
Yep, people speak differently. Can't argue with that. You have accents, personalities, moods (tired, excited, bored), speech habits etc. What's clear to one listener might not be immediately clear to another listener. Perhaps the listener simply needs to adjust to the speaker's accent, mood, speech habits, etc. Would you agree that the listener has some responsibility to stick with the speaker and focus on the content?
In spite of this fuzzy idea about speech "clarity," I'd argue that if you're delivering information in a presentation or interacting in a meeting, it's in everyone's best interest for you to pay attention to how you speak. Clear is smart. This goes for both native and non-native speakers alike.
If English is your native language, concentrate on your speed. Make a point of enunciating your vowel sounds clearly. Pay attention to any professional speaker who has received some form of speech coaching, and you'll probably hear crisp consonant sounds being uttered at the end of his or her key words of information.
If you're a non-native speaker of English, concentrate on your use of pauses, stress, and intonation. Stress and intonation are the specific cues that make up the English sound system. Every language has its own. If your audience consists of primarily native speakers of English, I recommend taking these cues seriously. More of what you're saying will be retained by your listener(s). (You want that, don't you?)
International speakers of English (i.e., non-native speakers), join me in the Chicago Loop for one of the following:
Shoot me a note below. It would be great to hear from you.
I (Sarah Gallant) was speaking with a client by telephone the other day. A director of a business team here in Chicago, from China. Someone who's used to standing in front of a group of people, engaging his audience with hand gestures, and conservatively moving about on the stage to help draw people into what he has to say. Into what he knows so well and talks about often in meetings and conferences.
This client was sharing a specific experience where he was speaking in front of a room of 100 people. Instead of the usual lapel microphone, he was given a hand microphone. He explained that he felt this object was a barrier. He hadn't rehearsed with it. He hadn't practiced speaking into a hand-held microphone while simultaneously engaging his audience by using his hands. One of his colleague friends mentioned after the event that he noticed that my client's hand was shaking a bit.
Have you had a similar experience like my client? In addition to some last minute adjustment (lapel to hand-held microphone), you were also having to pay special attention to how you were speaking? English isn't your first language. You were carefully enunciating the clear vowels and articulating the final consonants of the key words while trying to sound "natural."
One suggestion for handling such a last-minute adjustment is to take command of the stage with your voice. Shift your mental vocal attention not to the microphone but internally to your voice and production of sound in order to engage the audience.
In my last post, I shared three tips for creating a solid vocal presence in spoken English:
I'd now like to add two additional tips for engaging an audience.
Step forward. Perhaps exaggerate the first part of a sentence to simply get into a vocal presence mindset where you feel in control despite any barrier up on stage. Shift your attention from the microphone to your production of sound as a means to launch your presentation.
Vary your pitch in spoken English. I'm not talking about speaking like a valley girl and sounding goofy like you're perhaps imitating how English sounds to you. (Btw, it's worth asking yourself, How does English sound to me? There are obviously variations in how people speak. Ask yourself this question in different situations with different speakers.)
My suggestion is to concentrate on speaking in a strong steady sound while incorporating a little more pitch change on the last key word of information in your sentences. This helps draw the listener's attention to the new information, which again is typically at the end of the English sentence.
In both November and December, I'll be running a series of three workshops. They are what I call the golden nuggets of communicating clearly in spoken English. In my 8-week course, I go into a lot more detail about the specific speech features of English rhythm. But if you're limited in time and feel an immediate need to improve your vocal presence, sound, and rhythm in spoken English, I highly recommend the following three workshops:
Are you a global workforce professional who is proficient-or near proficient-in spoken English? Did you study in a Masters or Ph.D. program here in the States? Have you been working here for 10+ years? Do you communicate frequently with colleagues and clients in spoken English. Do you still feel like you need to push your spoken English to the next level to help you advance your professional career?
What I encourage you to do now is go back to some of the basics. Go back and develop a solid clear speech foundation. Concentrate on your vocal presence.
Speakers of all language groups (I mean ALL language groups) could benefit from opening their mouths more to enunciate their stressed vowel sounds in a more open way. These stressed vowel sounds lie in the key words of information (the nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, question words--and so many more). Enunciating these sounds help the listener(s) process what you are saying with less effort.
Enunciating more requires that you to pay attention to how your mouth, lips and jaw move when you speak in English. To develop the habit of enunciating more clearly, more openly, I recommend exaggerating your mouth movement while speaking in English a little every day. Perhaps, say, 10 minutes per day.
Whether you're communicating important information at work or simply chatting in a meeting or networking event, it's important to keep a steady volume from the beginning to end of your sentences. The volume needs to start strong to capture the listener's attention. The projection of sound needs to carry its presence to the end of the sentence. After all, the structure of the English sentence is such that the speaker typically starts a sentence with old or shared information of what was said in the previous sentence and then builds on and introduces new information. It's critical for the listener to hear the new information.
Speaking from the diaphragm, that muscle under your ribs, can readily help you to project a stronger sound in spoken English. If you are accustomed to speaking from your throat or upper chest, I recommend building the diaphragm muscle and developing the habit of speaking from the diaphragm.
Humming from the start helps international speakers of English develop a feeling for the connectedness of sounds present in the English sound system. While the American English sound does have a humming quality, my intention is not to train clients to adopt the American sound (even though some of them say to me at the beginning, I want to reduce my accent and sound American). I use this humming technique to simply help clients begin developing a feeling for the connected sound that is core to English rhythm.
To hum and connect your sounds, concentrate on creating a constant background noise between the ending and beginning of words. To start with this, I recommend taking a paragraph. First hum and then begin reading the paragraph. Try to maintain this humming sound between the words. If you're doing this right, you should sound a bit like a robot.
(Side note: There are indeed rules for connecting the sounds in English, but I'd say that developing a feeling for this connectedness from the start is more efficient in the long run. And more fun!)
You can also read what CommuniClear Global has coming up this fall by clicking HERE.
Want to contact Sarah directly? Simply fill out the form below.
Have you ever tried using a book and CD/MP3 recording program to learn about the English pronunciation sound system? Did you find that this self study program was good in that it offered thorough explanations and plenty of examples to work with; it also offered a sort of workbook-style practice routine intended to help you every step of the way?
For your schedule and needs at the time, however, did you feel that this program offered too many details? Did you find it difficult to keep any sort of practice momentum going?
Every language has its own sound system. There are, let's say, core speech features which make up its foundation. What features play a sort of interconnected role in your language?
In English, I recommend focusing on the following for starters:
Practicing a little every day is critical. 15-20 minutes is ideal but 5-10 minutes is better than nothing. If you want a few ideas, click HERE to read about a few practice techniques that I shared on March 9th.
Feel free to email me, Sarah, at email@example.com. Or simply fill out the form below:
Chicago-based CommuniClear Global, Inc. is an English language training provider, dedicating 100% of its attention to spoken English.
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