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:
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.
Every organisation wanting to lead its field is always looking for new ways to improve the way they do things. While external consulting, improving systems or a raft of other measures can help, it must also be remembered that an organisation is only as good as its people.
The ability and potential of each person within the organisation can be expanded through professional development courses on a regular basis. While many such P.D. courses, as they are known, are focused on hard skills such as retraining to use a new software suite for instance, in fact it is often those courses that focus on more personal skills that achieve the greatest overall improvements.
As anybody who has spent time in University and then experienced a successful and profitable career knows well, it is not so much what you study at the time but how your brain is trained to think from that study. Indeed, analysis of The Sunday Times Rich List, indicates that while a majority of Britain’s wealthiest individuals are tertiary educated, they have often strayed far from their field of study to build successful businesses.
A good and typical example of this is Martha Lane Fox who read ancient and modern history at Oxford University but then went on to build lastminute.com, one of Europe’s most successful online travel businesses. Ms. Fox has remarked in interviews it is the ability to think that is more important than undertaking a particular area of training.
Technology is also improving speed and availability for personal professional development courses. An example of this is the speech development and communication courses offered by SpeechSchool.TV. These courses make use of online video and an assessment system and have already been awarded internationally. By undertaking speech training, organisation members can improve their communication skills and be better understood in the workplace, creating improved efficiencies and outcomes.
SpeechSchool.TV is one of the largest online providers of speech training on the internet. In recent times they have found a growing market with organizations looking to provide a simple and cost effective form of professional development for communication training.
According to Management Consulting Firm Accenture, when a survey of executives were asked to rank which 3 skills were most valuable to their success in business: 61% identified communication skills followed by 40% technical and 30% analytical skills.
SpeechSchool says that communication skills training is the fastest, most effective way to help boost a team’s performance and online communication courses are a very efficient and cost effective way to do this. The School cites recent findings from the US Department of Education who reported that online learning environments actually lead to higher test performance than face to face environments.
The SpeechSchool system uses online video training and interaction with speech and voice coaches through an assessment system to drive learning outcomes. Currently their most popular program is their Master Speaker – English Accent course which has been proven to dramatically reduce foreign accents that may be impeding communication. This is particularly useful for call centres, customer service staff and personal relationship managers.
The School has provided professional development programs using their online courses to a variety of organizations around the world, from HSBC Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to Massey University in New Zealand.
For more information on SpeechSchool.TV’s online communication courses and professional development in New Zealand, the UK and around the world please visit the SpeechSchool site.
A top advertising Creative Director has just stepped out of the SpeechSchool.TV studio where he presents a regular show. “The beauty with the training provided here is that the videos and materials are online so students and companies can access them around the world 24/7,” says Simon Angelo. “In developing my lessons for the Master Communicator program I was asked to condense everything I’d learnt about persuasive communication in over 15 years, not to mention many seven figure budgets in the direct response TV advertising industry. This information for salespeople is potentially very, very powerful as it is what’s at the heart of persuasion.”
“Usually the difference between success and failure is what you know,” he goes on to explain. “Those who succeed simply get there because they know, understand and use techniques the rest do not. That is certainly true with television advertising and for salespeople giving sales presentations day in and day out.”
Simon would know a thing or two about persuasive presentations on TV as some of the long format direct response TV ads he has written have set industry records, successfully selling products for 7 years or more when most start to falter within a year.
“One of the first things I cover in the course which is of direct relevance in sales training is how to open a presentation. This is the part that lets most people down. They often feel they need to establish rapport first through greetings or personal remarks, not realising that in this fast paced world, rapport is best established by starting with The Big Idea.”
What is ‘The Big Idea’? It’s the part of the message that is most powerful and will instantly get attention and interest. In the Master Communicator course some graphic and detailed examples are given. According to SpeechSchool.TV, a Sales Manager in the Magazines industry had his entire sales team trained online through the Master Communicator program. During this time they pitched to an ad agency and using the techniques taught were able to sell in a deal that grew business for that year by 40%.
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.