“While I’m delivering a presentation or participating in a teleconference call, how can I realistically pay attention to both my English pronunciation and the information at the same time? I tend to focus only on the information when I’m speaking.”

Good question! I agree. Adjusting the way you speak in English while you are presenting, or talking with colleagues, can be challenging. Paying attention to the alternation of stressed and unstressed sounds in real-time, spontaneous speech probably doesn’t feel natural.

This requires that you think like an actor. You need to be able to flip the switch, like an actor, to communicate clearly with your colleagues. This takes time, I believe. Time, controlled practice, and constant monitoring. It’s a process that demands speaking awareness.

Imitating helps this process

Imitating involves first observing something in particular. This may be a speaker’s body language, manner of speaking, or way of articulating sounds. Next, the observer attempts to copy. By imitating, the observer continues to pay careful attention while actively speaking or moving. This is speaking awareness in action! Immediate results may not be readily apparent, but it seems that imitation moves a part of this process forward. Eventually, with careful monitoring and guidance in the process, the speaker can become clearer in real-time spontaneous speech.

Observe others

Carefully examine how people talk–colleagues, mentor figures, professors, actors, specific TV show characters, leaders, and public speakers. Carefully listen to how they speak. Do they enunciate clearly? Speak at a good rate that’s not too fast? Use pauses?

Examine how people speak in different situations:

  • presenting in front of a group of people
  • talking in a meeting
  • delivering important information
  • participating in a video/teleconference call
  • making an announcement.

Imitate others

What specifically do you need to observe and imitate? Who might be a good person to imitate?

Click here and look at a few online resources posted at the bottom of the page.

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