How many times have you been in a meeting or at a presentation and missed chunks of what the speaker was saying due to his or her mumbling? Swallowing sounds? Speaking monotone where every syllable and every word seemed to carry the same amount of stress?
Both native and non-native speakers of English alike need to understand that the delivery of ideas need attention. You want the listeners to process your information with less effort. Think about it: The more energy they expend on trying to understand you the less energy they are putting into what you’re saying. I.e., the information and intention behind the information.
3 Accent Modification Tips
- Enunciate: Move your mouth to produce the stressed vowel sounds clearly. When you’re preparing your presentation, interview responses, etc., exaggerate these vowel sounds. Record yourself. Do the stressed vowel sounds sound open and relaxed?
- Articulate: Concentrate on producing the medial and final consonants crisply. When you’re preparing, hold these sounds. Like with the vowels, exaggerate the articulated sound by holding it. Record yourself. For the fricatives (e.g., /f/ and /v/) is there some release of air as you’re articulating these sounds? For the stops (e.g., /t/ and /g/), are you stopping the air before you release these sounds? Are you voicing the voiced sounds?
- Alternate: Alternate the stressed and unstressed sounds at the word, phrase and sentence levels. Enunciating & articulating are integral to physically alternating the stressed and unstressed sounds. I’d say that alternating these sounds is core to the rhythm or music of the language. Record yourself. Do the stressed syllable vowels sound more open? Are they longer and do they carry a small pitch change? Do the unstressed vowels sound flat and lazy?
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