The secret to great public speaking

Public Speaking
Public speaking can be a joy when you know the secret.

I used to dread being asked to speak.  The bigger, the more unknown the audience the worse it was.  The fear would sit in my belly for weeks or days beforehand, a corrosive acid gradually spreading through me until the terrifying event.  One day however, I was able to make a major mind shift.  I came to a realization that banished my fear of public speaking for good.  Since then, I’ve become a well renowned speaker, in demand for my clarity and humor.  If there is one secret to becoming a confident, able public speaker it is this mind shift.

It happened to me once I started really listening to more and more speeches.  I went to seminars.  I joined my local Toastmasters.  I listened and watched speakers carefully.  And I realized that the vast majority of speakers do little more than impart information.  Most speeches are actually rather boring, especially in the context of the workplace.

Then I started thinking.  You know what?  It would take very little to ‘lift’ a speech.  To take it from merely imparting information to actually entertaining people – including yourself.  In this way, speech making could be fun.

Most people, especially when doing a speech take themselves far too seriously.  The secret of great public speaking is to see the job as not only sharing information but entertaining and delighting your audience.

The secret to transforming public speaking from a dull recount of information to something juicy and entertaining is to come up with a surprising and funny opening.  That’s really all you need.  Once you have that, tired, skeptical audiences completely change their view of you.  They realize, ‘at last, here is someone who is going to entertain us, charm us and have some fun!’  It’s very rare.

So, every public speaking task I’m now faced with – I start with one important job:  Finding a single story or remark to include at the start of my speech that will set this tone and gain the excitement of an audience.  From there, it’s so easy to build material on.  You find you actually look forward to giving the speech because the audience reaction can be so delicious.  You anticipate joy and fun rather than terror.

Well, I should give you an example.  I recall a speech given by the late David Lange (former Prime Minister of New Zealand).  His opponent (and then Prime Minister) had just spoken at a University gathering.  It was a strong but solely informative speech.  Lange stood up and said in response, “Well, that was all a bit like a wonder bra – very uplifting but didn’t fool anybody.”  From then, the student audience – not knowing what he would say next, were entertained, tickled and all ears for more!

The secret of great public speaking starts with a surprising and entertaining opening that turns the whole task from boredom to charm and delight.  Try it in your own public speaking tasks and material.  You’ll be surprised how it can transform things.

For more specific speech training, please join our online video public speaking course at SpeechSchool.TV.

How do you learn the English accent?

English accent presentation
When coming from a second language, how do you learn to present with an English accent

The language learning market is huge, however 91% of those learners are concentrated on just one language: English.  Unfortunately, simply learning English is not enough on it’s own to be heard, understood and to be able to thrive in an English speaking environment.  This is because when we come from our native language, the pronunciation and intonation patterns of that language impact signficantly on our accent.  In many cases, and paritcularly for relatively new learners of English, that accent can be so strong that it impacts negatively on our spoken English.

So how do you learn English accents and soften your own accent?

Well, the first question must be which English accent to focus on when learning English?  SpeechSchool.TV is the largest provider of video based English accent training online.  The School has offered many different courses over the years, from Standard English (British), American English to Australasian Engilsh.  They have found that 90% of students, including those in the US where an American accent is the norm, choose to learn the Standard English accent.

Why learners choose the Standard English accent?

When it comes to learning English accents and speaking and presenting like a native speaker, the main aim first is to soften your own accent.  Accent softening, requires a structured course whereby you study;

1. The correct tonal pronunciation of all phonetic sounds.

2. The inflection pattern of speech.

3 The rhythm, flow and intonation pattern through sentences.

With Standard English, this is based on Oxford English, and covers 50 phonetic sounds and standardised rules of English pronunciation.  American English in comparison only has about 44 phonetic sounds, uses slang and has variance across different regions.

Students around the world therefore choose Standard English in order to learn all sounds clearly and correctly, which forms the best platform for them to go about softening their own accents.

Accent softening and the learn English accent program from Speech School

SpeechSchool.TV has worked with thousands of students worldwide with its award-winning video based training and as a result has the leading ‘learn English accent’ program for internet learning.

Students generally experience a reduction in accent strength of 20% over a 3 month period and a much larger reduction over months and years, whereby their spoken English becomes like an educated native speaker, considerably improving speech and presentation outcomes for them.

 

Learn British Accent

Learn British Accent
In 2014 the Mirror reported on a YouGov Poll of the most attractive accents in Britain.

It has been estimated that in Britain alone there are more than 24 different regional accents.  One of the reasons for this, is that until the 1930s, mass transport was limited. The population were more confined to regional areas where they developed their own accents.

For the new learner of the English language or the second language speaker, the key question to ask when undertaking online accent or speech training, is which accent is best to learn?  Should I learn British accent or American?

British or American Accents?

Second language speakers of English are generally taught in two strands; either British English, based on Received Pronunciation (RP) or General American, based on American English.  Let’s examine British English based on RP first.

RP emerged almost eighty years ago as a standard model of English speech, without specific regional dialect.  It was mostly based on a Home Counties accent, whereby there was minimal regional accent.  In larger more populous areas it is also logical that particular regional flavours or dialects will become less popular as a wider range of people work, interact together and need to be understood.

Examining the British RP based accent phonetically we find that it has 50 unique phonetic sounds and provides the most complete ‘standard’ of the English language.

Learning the American Accent

Like the United Kingdom, the United States also has many regional dialects of English, including Southern, New York and Californian, for example.  However the accent that appears most neutral and is used on the major nationwide TV news networks is based on the Mid West accent and is descriptively termed ‘General American’.

Phonetically, the General American accent has 44 unique phonetic sounds.  In this way it does not have as wider range as British RP.  However the real question for learners of English, is which accent is best received on both sides of the Atlantic?

Preferences to Learn British Accent

As we’ve seen in the YouGov Poll, Received Pronunciation is the second most attractive accent in the UK, falling only behind Southern Irish, which is phonetically closer to the American Accent.  However surveys in the United States show that British RP is perceived to be more attractive and sophisticated than local American accents.  Further, the accent, due to its focus on absolute clarity, can be easily understood in the US.

Learn British Accent with SpeechSchool.TV

For this reason, SpeechSchool.TV teaches the British RP based accent, although the training is modified to provide International RP.  This aims to provide the clearest most neutral form of English speech training.  It is suitable for learners and speakers of English worldwide.

Learn British Accent today

Everyday Efforts To Improve Your Speech

In this post, we invited guest blogger Mike Parsons to share his experience on improving English speech for new speakers of the language.

Speaking clearly is crucial to communication. Even in this era of online business and social media, the spoken word is what we rely on at work, on the street, and at home. Clear speech may be the edge you need to advance in your job, or to succeed in classes. Here are some pointers for things you can do every day, during your regular life, that will improve your speech.

Read Aloud – a LOT

You can’t improve your speech if you do not talk. This is especially true if you are learning a foreign language. Therefore, you need to actually speak the language as much as you can.

Many times, simply reading the newspaper to someone can be the avenue for “getting your tongue around” a language. If your family members are impatient with this, consider volunteering at a hospice or hospital. By carefully reading aloud, you become familiar with the rhythms of the language.

learn_english_by_reading
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zoetnet/4851547572/sizes/l

Newspapers are usually written at about a year 5 level. The vocabulary is familiar to the majority of people, and the sentence structure is supposed to be easy to read.

Newspapers also communicate information that is intended to keep the reader informed of important or interesting events in the world around them. By reading the newspaper aloud, you will not only work on your reading and pronunciation skills, you will be more attuned to current events.

If a newspaper is too much for you, reading children’s books is another easier way to practice your pronunciation. Here, you can learn graded material, just as the students do. Usually in children’s books, the sentences are shorter and less intricate, which makes it easier to read. Also, early educational children’s books often repeat one word a great deal to teach vocabulary, or they will repeat a particular blend or consonant pattern such as “sh” or “th”.

english_reading_for_children
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/95072945@N05/12779343884/sizes/l

Reading to children, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language, can be great fun for everyone involved, especially if you have the ability to laugh at yourself. By asking the children to help you say the words right, you not only encourage them to read more fluently, but you have very cute little coaches correcting your pronunciation.

engilsh_pronunciation_road_signs

Reading road signs aloud is also a great way to get practice with pronunciation. That’s right, you can be “one of those” passengers. You may drive your mates crazy, but this can be excellent practice. With advertisements, for example, you have probably heard the names of the stores, services, or products on TV, and as you read the signs, you can compare your pronunciation. Or, maybe your mates in the car will – cheerfully – correct your pronunciation!

Watch TV

english_pronunciation_news
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/70225554@N00/2328038131/sizes/o/

How great is it to actually HAVE to watch TV? The only problem is, sometimes the people on TV speak very quickly. This can make it hard to keep up with the conversation or news program. The key here is to try to listen for specific words.

For example, if you are watching a news program about a blizzard, listen for the words “blizzard”, “winter storm”, “snow”, and “freeze”. Learning to anticipate the keywords in a news story helps you to keep track of the context. As you become more fluent with the language, you can pick up on the contextual words in which these keywords are used. It also broadens your vocabulary.

Inflection

Inflection is key to understanding the spoken word. This involves using a well-modulated speaking voice that drops in pitch slightly at the end of a sentence. However, you do not want it to drop drastically, or the words will be lost.

The key to good pronunciation is exposure and imitation. Find safe places to speak, and enjoy the journey!

Online Speech Training

SpeechSchool.TV is the world’s largest provider of English speech training online with more than 3,000 minutes of structured video immersion, teaching the most preferred Standard English accent to second language speakers around the world. Please visit the website for more information on their English pronunciation course.

Contributor Bio

Mike Parsons enjoys researching speech and language techniques. He currently works for a translation company found at http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/

How to improve English speaking

Learn English Speaking
Learning to speak the English language clearly and well can be a very satisfying experience.

So you already read, write and speak English to a reasonable level?  However, can you be clearly understood and do you make the right impression on your listeners? 

Aurelien Gasc was a French engineer who had been working and living in an English speaking country for a number of years.  Yet, he always felt that when he was communicating with colleagues and friends he was “that French guy in your face.”

Mr. Gasc joined SpeechSchool.TV, a leading provider of British accent training and online tuition in English speaking.  The school helped him to soften his accent and now he is able to speak more easily and clearly with those around him.

Learn how to speak English like a native speaker

The challenge for learners is always to learn to speak the language in a similar way to native speakers so they can be clearly understood and fluency is evident.  SpeechSchool.TV teaches English pronunciation and helps achieve clear pronunciation across sentences, focusing on the Standard English accent.  While the School recognises that some local accent adds colour, it’s English accent course helps to ensure that such accent does not impede understanding or overpower the clarity of the message.

Should I go for British accent training or American accent training?

The best advice for students is to learn pure Standard English which is essentially without an accent.  This is spoken English as found in an Oxford dictionary and contains 50 unique phonetic sounds.  For students living and working in America it is very easy to modify the tone and flow of this speech toward an American accent (which has around 44 phonemes).

More information on English speaking and British accent training is available from SpeechSchool.TV, a well recognised provider in online education.

Learn the English Accent – which one?

Learn English Accent
Hugh Grant had a ‘breakout’ performance as an actor in Four Weddings and a Funeral. His classic Standard English accent is also the most favoured accent for learning English.

Four Weddings and a Funeral is a well known movie in which Hugh Grant plays Charles, a debonair but socially clumsy Englishman who falls for an American woman, Carrie (played by Andie MacDowell) that he repeatedly meets at four weddings and then a funeral.

For students of English, of most interest is his classic British accent.  It is a very clear form of English but also somewhat posh and according to SpeechSchool.TV, a leading provider of online accent training, it is the most sought after form of English speech amongst learners.

Received Pronunciation and the English Accent

Grant’s accent is very close to Received Pronunciation, an English accent commonly associated with well educated speakers in the South of England and the Home Counties around London.  However, the main reason it is taught as the Standard English Accent by SpeechSchool,TV is that it is also the standard pronunciation used in the Oxford Dictionary, and compared to most other English accents, in fact has very little accent and no regional indicators.

When it comes to learning English, learners need to also learn pronunciation and this comes down to deciding on which English accent to focus on.  If the aim is clear English and intelligibility anywhere in the world, the clear tones of Standard English are recommended.  Moreover, learning correct English pronunciation allows the learner more easily to adapt their accent later on according to the environment in which they are living but with a secure understanding of elocution.  Hugh Grant himself for instance does not speak pure Received Pronunciation but rather an accent based on that with some London undertones.

Preferences to Learn English Accent

Even in America, SpeechSchool finds that students prefer to learn the English accent based on Standard English.  American accents can be quite varied and even compared to General American (the American accent most often used in the news media) the clarity of Standard English is preferred.

American accents are also blended with Standard English, most commonly in the form of the authoritative ‘Trans-Atlantic’ accent which combines Received Pronunciation with General American.  Again the clarity of this accent is based on its pure English accent roots.

Perhaps another reason for the teaching and learning preference for the English accent (as opposed to the American or other accents) is that Standard English contains the most phonemes, in total 50 unique sounds, whereas General American has only around 40 – depending on which version is used.

SpeechSchool.TV has one of the most complete programs on the internet to learn the English Accent.  For more information on the English learning programs, please visit the English accent course page:

http://www.speechschool.tv/online-learning-english-speech-program.html

Is persuasive speech manipulation of emotion?

Persuasive Speech
Persuasive speaking done well is powerful because it can draw our emotions and change the way we think and act.

The art of persuasive speaking involves taking an audience from a certain position (A) to a new position (B) in their thinking and ideally their actions.  Most modern persuasive speech is directed at us through the advertising industry and increasingly those persuasive messages need to be honed and reduced down to the smallest quantity of words in order to get our attention in a short space of time and cause us to desire something and take action to buy it!

Much like successful advertising, great persuasive speech should concentrate on the formula of persuasion: AIDA (create Attention, get Interest, achieve Desire in the audience, get Action taken – usually to buy the product being advertised).  In this way, persuasive speech is not so much manipulation of emotion but appeal and stimulation of emotion.  As human beings we are emotional beings and we want our emotions to be stimulated and allow our actions to be also directed by feeling.  If they were not, we would be robots.

Of course emotional control is important and we need to know when our emotions are being used to change the way we think, but by the same token emotions make us compassionate, human and allow us to enjoy our lives.  Buying things based on a degree of emotion is one of the simplest human pleasures.

Well, you are probably reading this blog because you are interested in learning how to use persuasion to foster emotional engagement in order to get your own message across.

In applying these techniques to your messages either in public speaking or presentations, you can dramatically increase the value of the outcomes achieved.  It also pays to be aware that a significant obstacle to persuasion these days is credibility.  With business rapidly moving online, the trust factor is vital.  In order to develop successful persuasive messages, we have put together the following checklist to go through as you prepare:

1. Does your opening get strong attention and break through inertia?

2. Do you then establish credibility by proving that you are the right person or company to be sending out this message?

3. Do you maintain interest throughout the message and build it and develop it toward a climax?

4. Is your overall intention good and noble and does it resonate with the better side of human emotions?

5. Do you generate a desire to do something?

6. Do you create a strong and immediate willingness to take action?

Here at SpeechSchool.TV we have developed the leading persuasive speaking course on the internet based on the presenter’s years of experience as a Creative Director in a top advertising agency:

Learn persuasive public speaking with SpeechSchool.TV

Effective communication courses

Great Speeches Kennedy
Great speakers like John F. Kennedy are emembered, even if they do not write their own speeches. Learning the principles of effective communication can help you construct powerful messages that are not forgotten.

President John F. Kennedy delivered his inaugural speech in Washington on January 20, 1961.  It is still quoted and used as a shining example of presidential speeches today.    The speech was effective in both its writing and presentation.  Experts say the speech was most effective because it sets up the ‘road map’ for a speech about renewal, while at the same time he also answers his audience’s concerns about his relative youthfulness by demonstrating a knowledgeable grasp of the global issues of the day.

The speech did two important things.  It understood his audience and it answered their concerns.  It not only said powerful things, it was designed and delivered to be powerful to the given audience of the day.

Everybody can learn the principles of effective communication, both in terms of what you say (construction) and how you say it (delivery).  One of the leading providers of online effective communication courses is SpeechSchool.TV, based at the ecentre at Massey University.

Not only does SpeechSchool.TV teach the principles of effective communication, it also offers an award winning accent and pronunciation course which is popular with second language students.  The School’s philosophy is that everyone speaking English, either as a native or second language, can become an engaging, clear and memorable speaker.  The classes are delivered via online video and offer the opportunity to send in assessments and work with voice coaches.

In particular, the School offers a Standard English Accent pronunciation course to develop clear English speech that is easily understood anywhere in the world along with a more advanced Master Communicator effective communication course which teaches the principles of effective speaking and persuasive communication:

Motivate your employees by using presentation skills

Presentations
It’s been shown that great words from the leader of any team expressed clearly and well can motivate that group of people to achieve much higher levels of success.

As an employer presentation skills can be valuable.  Leaders must motivate and inspire their teams in order to achieve success.  Think back to the best leaders you’ve had and you’ll likely remember them also as great communicators and speakers.

One of the best leaders I experienced was not in the workplace but at the high school I attended.  The Principal was a dynamic and powerful communicator who influenced staff and students through his presentations every morning at school assembly.

He was in many ways a very traditional Headmaster, wearing his black academic gown on stage and delivering sometimes thundering addresses on topics from racism to the importance of reading.  Yet the sense of power and clarity he delivered was inspiring and motivational.  Most importantly it was memorable.  Almost thirty years later I still remember his words and his message.

I recall him speaking about reading in particular.  He explained in visual detail, how, as students we all had a unique opportunity to access knowledge and the greatest minds in history and the present by reading their works.  He explained also that by reading fiction we opened and stretched our imagination to new worlds and new ideas, and as he went on to quote – your mind, once stretched by a new idea, is never the same again.

I’ve been a reader ever since.

If employers can achieve such memorable communication in the workplace not only will they motivate, they will be remembered and that has to be the ultimate test of any communication.  Memorable presentations are based on many of the things we admire as human beings – integrity, bravery and intelligence.  Those who are recognised as memorable communicators become people that others want to follow and once you have people wanting to follow you, you become a powerful and motivating leader.

Learning English pronunciation can sometimes be a challenge

learn_english_pronunciation
For migrants like Brian, learning the natural lingo of English can give major personal and professional advantages when settling into their new country.

Brian Park moved from Seoul, South Korea to Auckland, New Zealand 2 years ago.  A qualified engineer and relatively proficient in English, Brian thought it would be relatively easy to get a job as  it was widely known and advertised that New Zealand had a shortage of qualified engineers.

However after more than 9 months of searching for a job, Brain became disillusioned.  “I could not understand it,” he says.  “My English is good and my experience was the same as the employers were looking for.  In fact in Korea I had been exposed to working on even bigger projects than the local ones here.”

However when Brian came to SpeechSchool.TV and did his first assessment test, his spoken English was not as proficient as he first thought.  “The assessment showed me that my spoken pronunciation in English could actually be quite hard to understand for the local speakers.  This surprised me a lot as my written English has been shown to be very strong.”

Brian then realised that while is understanding of the English language was in fact very good his ability to pronounce it was not because most of his life he had been only using written English, not actually speaking it every day in an English speaking country.

The most important things are the “accent” and the local “lingo” Brian says.  “Actually before I started SpeechSchool I couldn’t even say the word “pronunciation” correctly.”

He now thinks that despite his excellent qualifications and depth of experience, employers were concerned about his ability to converse with staff and clients and were therefore selecting local candidates over and above him, even if they were less qualified.

Brian says through using the English Accent program at SpeechSchool.TV he has now managed to soften his accent and speak English much more clearly.  “I feel more confident now,” he says, “that I am just as good as the Kiwi candidates and can communicate in spoken English just as clearly.”