In our Speech Class Refresher program class week, I taught a section on Vocal Skills. Due to time constraints, I omitted two sections on enunciation and pronunciation, that I have taught in previous offerings.
I first taught these topics to students and professional clients when I was at the University of Houston in 1976, working on my M.A. degree. So, they have a special place in instruction for me.
One of the most successful and impactful women in professional business is Jill Schiefelbein . She wrote the best-seller, Dynamic Communication (Entrepreneur, 2016). She is pictured with me below when we attended a meeting at Success North Dallas, where she presented the monthly program, as selected by its leader, Bill Wallace.
I thought you might be interested in what she says about these two topics. This is an excerpt from an article she wrote entitled “7 Delivery Skills for Public Speaking,” published in Entrepreneur.com on April 26, 2017. You can read the entire article by clicking HERE.
“How you articulate and pronounce words is important because people need to be able to understand you. But if you get a little nervous, you probably tend to speak faster and faster, until you’re not enunciating well and your clarity is going to suffer. Your audience won’t catch everything you’re saying and you’ll lack maximum effectiveness. Following are some ways to help with your enunciation and pronunciation.
“First, show your teeth! To get the sound out, the mouth needs to be open and the air pipes clear. So if you find yourself starting to speak too quickly, think about showing some of your teeth (in other words, open your mouth a little wider). If you’re not sure whether you do this, watch yourself speak in a mirror. Better yet, set up a camera and record yourself in conversation or during a video chat.
“The second tip has to do with pronunciation. In music class, I learned that the singers who have lyrics you can actually understand have something in common — they pronounce the consonants clearly, especially the final consonant of each word. Try it. Say “world” out loud without focusing on the final “d” in your pronunciation. Now say it while pronouncing the last “d” clearly. Practice this in your head (or even better, out loud) with other words. You’ll notice it makes a difference.”
Just like everything else that we taught in our recent program, you get better at a skill by practicing the skill. That is as true for enunciation and pronunciation, as it is for anything else about public speaking.
Randy Mayeux and I are really excited about our upcoming book, entitled Answers to 100 Best Business Questions from 100 Best-Selling Business Books.
The book attempts to answer questions that our clients have in areas such as customer service, management, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and strategy. The answers come from books that we have presented over the years at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. Each question and answer fits on exactly one page.
The idea for the book came from a presentation we heard last week at Success North Dallas with Jill Schiefelbein, who spoke on business video, podcasting, and livestreaming. She is called the DYNAMIC COMMUNICATOR. Her major take-away is that businesses need to answer the questions that their customers ask. I am pictured with her below.
Here is a sample page from the book to whet your appetite:
What do customers really want salespeople to know?
Ram Charan. (2007). What the customer wants you to know: How everybody needs to think differently about sales. New York: Portfolio.
The landscape for selling has changed in significant ways in the past twenty years. Customers’ quest for personal service and high quality, now rival the best possible price that they want to pay. In this best-seller, Ram Charan explains what this revolution in customer demands means for salespeople’s behavior.
What exactly has changed? Years ago, supplies were tight, and customers had to book orders months in advance, with little room to negotiate price. Salespeople transitioned from order-takers to ambassadors, identifying needs and linking them to products and services, building relationships with their customers. Today, there is a glut of suppliers and supplies, with access from the Internet to all types of locations. The customers are under pressure to deliver value to their clients. “But the pressure on customers to perform is actually a huge opportunity for those suppliers who can help them….So while they want low prices, they also want their clients to love their products and services. They want to win against their competitors and stay ahead of them…They want suppliers who can help them accomplish those things by acting as partners, not one-time transactors” (pp. 4-5)
So, what does Charan say to do? Make the focus on the prosperity of your customers. Become your customer’s trusted partner, requiring you to understand: (1) the customer’s set of opportunities and the anatomy of competitive dynamics, (2) the customer’s customers and the customer’s competitors, (3) how decisions are made in the customer’s organization, (4) the customer’s company culture and its dominant psychology and values, and (5) the customer’s goals and priorities, both short-term and long-term, clearly and specifically (p. 40).
In short, Charan tells you to measure your success by how well your customers are doing with your help. Do not focus on selling a product or service; focus on how you can help the customer succeed in all ways that are important to that customer.