Are you absolutely fluent in English? You’ve studied since age 5 or 12? You can explain (and perhaps have explained) Einstein’s theory of relativity in English. You possess the grammar, sentence structure, a “working” vocabulary to comfortably communicate complex ideas or processes in English.
There’s one thing though. You look out in the audience, around the conference table or on the videoconference screen and see that the people before you are struggling to understand you.
Articulate Your Consonants!
Professional presenters are trained to carefully articulate their word endings. This helps the audience process the information for the first time. Pay attention to any speaker on TED talks. They may vary their speed and talk fast at points, but when addressing their key points, they tend to slow down and carefully articulate the consonant sounds of the key words (typically nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and question words). They want the audience to readily process and absorb their key points.
The Spine of Spoken English
In The Use and Training of the Human Voice: A Bio Dynamic Approach to Vocal Live, Arthur Lessac (HT) once said that consonants are like the spine of spoken English. They need to stand tall. Without them, everything else around them are more difficult to perceive and catch. The vowels. The stressed and unstressed sounds. The general rhythm of spoken English.
All of this is critical for the audience to understand, process and retain what you’re saying more efficiently. This, believe it or not, can affect whether you accomplish your goals in any given speech event. Teach. Sell. Connect. Learn. Etc.
I want to be clear: This isn’t about removing or reducing one’s accent. (Why would you want to do that?) It’s about knowing how to adjust your spoken English to be better understood. This goes for speakers of all language backgrounds, including those who only speak English.
A Little Extra Guidance
You probably know what the consonants are. You probably know the difference between voiced & unvoiced consonants (this is critical for standing tall!). This is the knowledge piece.
Do you want to integrate consonant articulation more consistently in your spontaneous, real-time speech? To pick up a few extra practice techniques that you may have never used?
If so, I’d like to invite you to register for a free live 30-minute webinar that I’m running next Wednesday, September 21st, 6-6:30 CST (11-11:30 GMT).