5 Misconceptions About Speaking English

What do you think about the way you speak at the workplace?

Are you articulating your words correctly? Are you using appropriate speech patterns to convey your message? Are you using grammar correctly?

Self Assessment: Voice and Articulation

True or False?

(1) A gentle, slightly breathy voice shows that I am not aggressive, and it is suitable for business situations.  (True / False)

(2) In order not to waste the listener’s time, I should speak at a faster pace. This also helps me to project confidence.  (True / False)

(3) People should not be judged by the way they speak. Some people sound enthusiastic and confident, but not everybody can sound like that.  (True / False)

(4) I speak with an accent, and I also don’t articulate my words very well. My colleagues know that, and they can understand me, so it is OK.  (True / False)

(5) Children have the ability to improve their speaking skills because they are faster learners, but as an adult, it is too late for me to work on this.  (True / False)

What were your responses? See if they are similar to our observations.

(1) A gentle, slightly breathy voice shows that I am not aggressive, and it is suitable for business situations. 

Quite the contrary. A gentle, breathy voice, while being non-threatening, comes across as unsure, weak, or unenthusiastic.  A clear and strong voice will gain you more respect.

(2) In order not to waste the listener’s time, I should speak at a faster pace. This also helps me to project confidence.  (True / False)

False. When we speak too rapidly, there are two disadvantages:

(1) We don’t have the time to frame our thoughts properly to come up with the best words and phrases.

(2) We may sound nervous or impatient when we speak too fast.

What matters is not how many words we can speak; it is how many words the listener can understand.

(3) People should not be judged by the way they speak. Some people sound enthusiastic and confident, but not everybody can sound like that. 

False. When we speak clearly and correctly, we project enthusiasm and confidence, and we come across as being more professional. With effort, most people can do it.

When we speak in a low voice or with a monotone, we could be presenting important or interesting information, but the listener is not likely to take much notice or be impressed.

(4) I speak with an accent, and I also don’t articulate my words very well. My colleagues know that, and they can understand me, so it is OK.  (True / False)

Accent and articulation are related yet different things.

Our accent reflects our linguistics background, our dialect and first language influences, and the speech patterns we commonly hear in our daily lives. Generally, our accent is a kind of birthright, and we don’t need to give that up.

Articulation, on the other hand, is the way we form the sounds in each word. This can be practised and perfected with the help of phonetic symbols.

(5) Children have the ability to improve their speaking skills because they are faster learners, but as an adult, it is too late for me to work on this.     

This is a common perception, but it is false.

Children, especially younger ones, may not have fully developed articulators. Their motor neurons may also not be fully “connected” for them to coordinate their articulators, so it is actually more difficult for them to produce certain sounds.

Adults, on the other hand, should have fully developed neurons and articulators.

Assuming that their speech mechanisms are healthy and in good working order, adults should be able to practise and perfect all the sounds in the phonetic alphabet, which makes it possible to pronounce most English words accurately.

 ___________________________________________________________________________

If you think that you are not speaking clearly or correctly, or if you suspect that you are not projecting your voice well enough, do something about it.

Train your articulators to articulate sounds correctly. Learn techniques to project your voice effectively.

People at the workplace judge us by the way we speak. It is not fair, but it happens. All the time.

 

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