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Speak Better Starting Now

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Wed Feb 08 2017

Speak Better Starting Now
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Many of us have gotten lazy with our speech patterns as the workplace has gotten less formal. While it may be fine to be casual with friends and close colleagues, when you are presenting or speaking to management, it pays to sound professional. Improving your diction is worthwhile, but how often do you actually stop to think about the way you sound to others? Here are some tips for improvement: 

1. Watch and Listen to the Best  

Any time you are at a conference or convention, visit the sessions of other presenters. It’s particularly helpful to sit in on opening or general sessions. Notice the diction of the keynote speaker. Take notes. What elements of other speech patterns could you adopt or, more precisely, adapt to your own speech pattern? 

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2. Go Ahead, Record Yourself  

Record your speeches and conversations (whether over the phone or in person). Any time you can play back the recording for at least five minutes, you have the chance to learn and improve. Phone conversations work particularly well, because if you’re talking to a friend, you’re probably not conscious of your diction.  

3. Compose a Word List  

Draw up a list of problem words. If you identify at least 10 words, that will be enough to get started. If you use these words often while speaking, your presentations will improve. 

4. Practice, Practice, Practice . . . Aloud 

Armed with your word list, practice pronouncing and repronouncing new words several times throughout the day. When you’re alone in your car is a great occasion to practice. It’s not enough to merely contemplate a word and how you prefer to say it; you need to get into the habit of saying it aloud, so that the correct pronunciation will take hold. 

5. Hire a Speech Coach  

A speech coach can spell the difference between trainers and other career professionals who rise to the top and those who feel stuck at the same level. In fact, the mere act of hiring a coach already puts you on a new plane. You become more conscious of your diction and gain a qualified listener who can catch what you might not otherwise notice. If you follow even a few of these five tips, you will see a marked improvement in your diction and speech within weeks.

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