Can persuasive speech be taught to people speaking with an accent?

Persuasive Speaking
Ever found yourself listening to a speaker who is trying to be convincing but a strong accent just keeps getting in the way?

Persuasive speaking can be extremely powerful when you believe in your message and have learnt to use the techniques.  It can sway audiences, close deals and get people on your side.  SpeechSchool.TV has been providing one of the leading online courses on the internet for many years in the form of their Master Communicator program, using many of the techniques from the presenter’s own career as a top Advertising Creative Director.  However, for many English speakers nowadays, English is not their first language and that can mean strong accents when speaking.

According to John Curtis, Course Director at SpeechSchool.TV, the first question is whether the accent impacts on the message and being understood.  “People have to be honest with themselves,” he says.  “You may think your accent is not that strong but in fact listeners may be struggling to understand your message, let alone be convinced by it.”

He gives the example of one particular presentation where a speaker with a strong Italian accent was trying to persuade an organisation to take an important and difficult decision.  “First, I looked around the room and could see that people were having to concentrate extra hard just to understand what was being said.  That means people can’t relax and enjoy the message initially as there is effort involved in processing it, which in turn reduces the persuasiveness of it,” Curtis says.  “Second, the main message wasn’t getting through.  As one of the other participants remarked in private afterwards – ‘I couldn’t really understand all of it and found myself sort of enjoying the Italian accent and thinking about Tuscany and Chianti rather than the subject at hand!'”

To help students like this, SpeechSchool.TV has developed an accent softening and pronunciation program to ensure students are speaking English as clearly as they can before going on to learn to become advanced and persuasive public speakers.

The School’s Master Speaker English Accent program teaches Standard English Pronunciation which works to give all speakers the clearest form of pronunciation possible so that they may then go on and achieve great results in their speeches and English communication.

All speakers of English, no matter their language background, can develop a style and mix that works for them and is persuasive.  Find out how

Improve accent by speaking publicly

Standard English Accent
The late actor, Edward Mulhare was known for playing cultivated English accents such as that used by Devon Miles in Knight Rider. Yet he grew up in Ireland and developed his accent through acting and practice.

In this multicultural world there are more people who speak English as their second language than their first.  A little accent helps add variety and celebrates different cultures.  However, many speakers find that a very strong accent can impede understanding and their ability to work or do business.  So how do you develop a natural English accent that works for you?

According to SpeechSchool.TV your accent is something that changes over time depending on how you develop and practice it when you speak English.  An excellent example of this comes from the acting world, where many actors start out with regional accents but develop more standard or sometimes prestigious accents through working on different characters.

The late Edward Mulhare for instance was Irish but through developing his accent in different roles he gained a reputation (and a career) playing debonair and sophisticated Englishmen.  In his role as Devon Miles in the highly successful TV series Knight Rider, his perfect English accent was rolled out in some 90 episodes.

Similarly Patrick Stewart, an actor originally from Yorkshire, managed to blend his native accent with Received Pronunciation through years of Shakespeare training.  He later played Captain Jean Luc Picard in the Star Trek series.

For those wanting to change the direction of their accents, SpeechSchool.TV recommends blending local accents with Standard English to create a clear, refined and unique voice that can be understood anywhere in the world.  One of the fastest ways to achieve this is to take a voice coaching course and then use the desired accent publicly wherever possible.

SpeechSchool.TV offers a Standard English accent course for this purpose and has found students who are able to combine practice of the exercises with the opportunity for public speaking are those most likely to develop their speech and voice successfully.

Call centers use speech training to lift service quality

Call Center Speech Training
One of the effects of globalization has seen the international contact centre industry move capacity to offshore locations where operator costs are lower. However this has been creating problems with understanding between callers, and that’s where online speech training is coming in.

Chances are if you call your bank or telephone provider’s customer service line, the call won’t be answered in your local country, but in India, the Philippines or a host of other countries where large offshore call centres operate.  One such example is Barclays Bank in the UK, which forwards thousands of such calls to operators in India.

Generally the operators selected have a good grasp of the English language but one of the difficulties in facilitating calls is the accent of the operator.  This causes frustration to the caller who finds it difficult understanding what is being said.  The process doesn’t do anything for the reputation of the organisation as ‘coal face’ customer support is seen by the customer to be limited.

SpeechSchool.TV is the largest provider of online speech training and has been working with a number of local and offshore call centres to help them streamline spoken English on the phone so it can be easily understood and the operators are respected.  According to SpeechSchool.TV, the demand has not only come from call centre managers but also from HR managers to provide communication training to more senior personal bankers, account managers and those whose spoken impression to the customer is vital.

The School has worked with employees from large organisations such as the HSBC Bank, the Google Contact Centre, telecommunications companies and law and accountancy firms worldwide.

SpeechSchool.TV’s Course Director, John Curtis, says studies have shown that some speech styles and accents are trusted more than others. “When you are able to communicate with the customer in a voice they respect, the communication will be more efficient and effective, delivering better outcomes for your customers.  Throughout international call centres, studies show that a Standard English accent has the lowest rate of errors and highest level of customer preference worldwide.”

SpeechSchool.TV provides an online video based program that teaches the Standard English Accent.  It has been used by call centres, banks and other firms for streamlined and cost effective speech training worldwide.  Students taking the course report they are being understood and respected much more when speaking.  They also report positive results with their accents and in some cases an increase in their incomes as a result.

The speech training program for corporates, call centres and other organisations includes the option to do assessments online before starting and then once every few months.  These speech assessments are graded and sent on to supervisors who can gauge clearly the level of progress that staff are making in terms of their clarity and effectiveness in speech.

The School also offers a more advanced sales training program – the Master Communicator course.  This is a sales and presentation training program based on years of experience in the television advertising industry.  It is designed more for native (or stronger) English speakers and improves confidence and presentation skills to provide a lifelong communication advantage.  According to the Course Director, it is perfect for professionals looking to get that extra edge.

SpeechSchool.TV is currently working with several organisations to roll out pilot speech and communication training programs for their staff.  Further enquiries may be directed to the SpeechSchool.TV website.

How to remove your native accent

How to remove your native accent
A native Chinese accent has not held back actress Ziyi Zhang in English movies such as ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.  However, for most people with strong accents, studies show they will find life and work much easier after softening their accent and being more easily understood in English.

A native accent can add character and cultural identity, however many speakers of English as a second language want the ability to remove or soften it in certain situations, typically in the workplace.  One of the reasons for this is the ongoing difficulty created when a native accent is so strong that it precludes listeners from fully understanding what is being said.

“I can tell you that large numbers of people do face prejudice in English speaking countries when they sound different,” reports one Language School Director.  “Mostly this is because listeners need to expend extra effort to understand what they’re saying  – which in turn creates impatience and frustration on both sides.”

Job market surveys also show that 8 out of 10 people with a foreign or regional accent have faced prejudice and discrimination because of the way they sound.  According to a recent poll conducted by Aziz Communications, neutral accents were the best accents for people wanting to get ahead.

SpeechSchool.TV is the largest provider of online speech training and has developed a Standard English Accent course which helps people develop a clear and neutral accent.  “Anybody can remove or soften their accent regardless of their language background,” reports the School.  “Our expectation is that within 3 months our students would see an improvement of 20% in clarity on their graded assessments, and much more beyond that.”

SpeechSchool.TV has developed an award-winning process that has been proven to help students remove or soften their accent.  Having worked with students from all around the world, the School has successfully helped students with Chinese, Indian, European and even native accents like Liverpudlian and Cockney.  The process involves teaching students all 50 sounds of Standard English and then providing the reinforcement and practice over a long period of time to make the new, neutral accent ‘stick’.  Regular weekly videos provide the ongoing support and continuous exposure that students need.  Alongside this, coaching is given on effective communication techniques and improving the student’s overall skill and confidence as a speaker of the language.

While accents provide variety and richness to the English language, there is a growing role for accent training so that speakers of English can choose the way they sound rather than being prejudged by a perceived foreign accent.  Students of SpeechSchool.TV report that they are now able to speak in a more neutral accent in their workplace or revert back to their local lingo when amongst friends.  Several confirm that improvements in speech have led to better job opportunities and increased income.

What is ‘International Received Pronunciation’?

Improve your accent
In an increasingly multicultural environment, clarity and understanding is key. A new standard in teaching spoken English called International Received Pronunciation is helping bridge the gap between clear pronunciation and retaining cultural identity.

SpeechSchool.TV, the world’s largest provider of online speech training, provides a model for speech and English accent learning in the form of ‘International Received Pronunciation’.  It has been extremely successful in helping speakers develop a mode of speech that is easily understandable and well respected anywhere in the world English is spoken.  So what is ‘International Received Pronunciation’ or IRP?

IRP is a model of English speech that aims to be as clear as possible.  It based on British Received Pronunciation but has some important differences.  “Received Pronunciation (RP) is the gold standard in spoken English,” reports the Course Director, “as the phonetic pronunciations are those used in an Oxford Dictionary.  It is highly regarded but spoken by a minority of English speakers.  When it comes to speech training, students don’t necessarily want to speak traditional RP, instead they simply want to soften an existing accent or speak a lot more clearly.  For that reason we acknowledge that the best result is achieved by learning RP but then blending it with the student’s own language background or the sounds of the country in which they’re living.”

While the International Received Pronunciation model was developed by SpeechSchool.TV as an ideal English Accent for global speech training, there are already numerous examples of IRP speakers.  For example the actor, Patrick Stewart who played Captain Jean-Lu Picard in the Star Trek series speaks with a mix of RP and his native Yorkshire accent.  Karan Bilimoria who founded the Cobra Beer company mixes in a little of his Parsi (Indian) background to his sounds.  This represents an ideal basis for speech as all sounds are clearly pronounced but they are also blended to some degree with an accent that reflects the person’s background and identity.

Why learning the English accent is the standard in international speech training

Learn the English Accent
Learning an English accent is the preferred way for professionals from other languages to improve their clarity and results in spoken English.

With more than 30 years working in speech training, SpeechSchool.TV’s Course Director was recently asked for some thoughts on accent in spoken English.

The School has provided various programs over the years to improve the clarity of students’ speaking.  This has included programs that teach the Standard English Accent (Received Pronunciation), the American Accent (General American) and the Australasian Accent.

When students want to improve their pronunciation clarity, they must first be taught a model of clear, authoritative English.  But what phonetic model do you base that on?  ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching for example uses two standards: either Received Pronunciation or General American.

However, when teaching spoken English, SpeechSchool.TV says one standard is emerging.

The School’s Course Director begins by saying that accent in speech is no bad thing.  “Some accent helps to communicate a person’s cultural background and adds a richness and authenticity to who they are.  Where SpeechSchool.TV comes in is where the strength of that accent is preventing clarity or having a negative result in the student’s speaking environment.”

“With speech training, all students naturally pick up to some degree the accent of the country in which they are living.  For that reason, we have found the best methodology is to teach students the purest form of spoken English, which is Received Pronunciation or Standard English.  They can then use that training to find their perfect voice, which provides lasting confidence.”

Apparently one of the problems with teaching the American accent is that it is a regional accent, has fewer sounds and is generally less clear than a Standard English Accent.  According to SpeechSchool, American students are better to begin learning Standard English speech, then modify sounds in American settings – which will largely happen automatically.  “We liken this process to making beer with pure water, rather than starting with flavoured water.  The pure basis provides a more logical starting point in learning.”

After substantial research, SpeechSchool.TV also decided to forego teaching an  American Accent course altogether in 2010, focusing on building “the best Standard English pronunciation course for all speakers, anywhere in the world.”

An additional reason for this was that the School noticed more than 70% of students from the American continent were selecting to learn the English Accent anyway.

SpeechSchool.TV believes the best possible basis for clear and powerful English speech is to begin learning the Standard English accent.  This form of speech is virtually ‘accentless’ and thus provides the best possible basis for speech training.  It also allows students to improve clarity while blending some of their own cultural identity and location into their voice as needed.

To review the course with an initial free trial period please visit:

Free Speech Assessments available now

English Accent Speech Assessment
The highly popular service from SpeechSchool.TV is back: Free speech assessments for a limited time.

How do you really sound to others?  The way you speak English can make a big difference when making that vital first impression.  Your listener decides within a few seconds your likely background, your level of education and whether they trust you and want to listen. To help people discover more about their spoken English, this month the largest provider of online speech training is offering free speech assessments where you can get an indication in 48 hours just how you sound.

For a number of years, SpeechSchool.TV has been providing award winning online video programs in speech lessons, comprising their English accent program where students can learn to speak clearly with a Standard English accent and the Master Communicator program which teaches presentation skills and techniques of effective communication.

The purpose of the free speech assessments are to offer a quick impression on a prospective student’s speech over about 60 seconds of communication and recommend the best course for them.  While the free assessment report is brief, it does score the level of clarity (compared to a Standard English accent), make some observations on the impression the speech gives and recommend the right course.

Usually when people look for English speech lessons it is because they are experiencing a problem with their speech or are not getting the feedback and results they desire from others.  Studies have shown that poor speech clarity can lead to reduced job prospects and lower levels of confidence.  The free speech assessment service hopes to be able to help people identify initial problems that they can then correct with one of the Speech School’s courses.

To take a free assessment (while available) please visit

The new hot brand in spoken English

Spoken English Brand
Beyond the watch, bag and clothes, a new hot brand is emerging in personal image – and it’s not as easy to acquire as you might expect…

Mention any fashion accessory and leading brand names come to mind:  A Louis Vuitton bag or Gucci watch for instance.  However, personal image is much more than the bag you carry or the watch you wear.  In fact research shows us that the greatest impression made on others is actually caused by the way you speak.

SpeechSchool.TV ( is the market leader in a new trend for professional people around the world wanting to ‘upgrade’ their spoken English.  After offering a number of programs over the years, the online school based at the ecentre at Massey University and in central London as found two main courses are the most popular.

The first is the School’s award winning ‘Master Speaker, English Accent’ program.  This teaches students from all around the world, through online video learning, how to acquire a clear and neutral Standard English accent.  It is extremely popular with people who come from a language background other than English and for native speakers who want to improve the clarity of their speech.

According to SpeechSchool.TV, the School has also previously offered a dedicated American accent program but this wasn’t popular.  “At the end of the day,” the School’s Course Director reports, “people around the world want to learn the clearest and purest form of English as their base.  They want to sound like Kate Winslet or James Bond, as their accent will blend to some degree depending on where they are based anyway.  Even the many Amercian students doing our courses seemed to by far prefer this Standard English accent.”

The second program offered by the School is the ‘Master Communicator’ course.  While the English Accent program deals with ‘how you say it’, this course deals with ‘what you say’ and is based on the instructor’s own experience as a Creative Director in a top ad agency.  The training in communication technique, public speaking and persuasive speaking has proven very popular with business people and for professional development programs in organizations.

However, while the only obstacle to getting that beautiful hand bag is the sticker price, an ideal spoken voice can take a little longer.  SpeechSchool.TV reports that noticeable results are generally seen within 3 months on the course and the real improvements in confidence and finesse take place while continuing the lessons over a longer term basis.  Either way, in this increasingly globalizing world, speech will remain the most critical part of the overall impression anyone creates when they speak the English language.