Many of my clients speak English as a second language, initially contacting me because they are not being understood when they speak. Of course, they question if their English skills are lacking. In 99% of the cases, I have found that their English is good; it is their diction that is the problem.

  • Being understood the 1st time you say it is a prerequisite in business as competition in the job market is incredibly fierce in today’s questionable economic times.

While education, experience, and even personality play a major role in who gets the job, if a prospective employer cannot understand you, then someone else will probably win the offer. This is not just an issue in seeking employment however. You need to be understood no matter what career path you have chosen. (Poor communication skills can have dire consequences in all fields, be it business, education, and most definitely healthcare.)

Your goal should not be to eliminate your accent, rather to clean it up. It is also likely that you are not fully aware of how difficult it is for others to understand you because you may believe that the problem deals with your volume. Of course, your volume may be a problem as well. The 1st thing you need to do is to record yourself and then study the playback. This may be an ‘ear-opening’ experience for you: if you have been unaware of how you sound to your listeners, the recording will tell you the truth.

One of my recent clients was a woman from China who thought her diction was clear. She was working with me on her voice and presentation skills and was stunned when she heard herself on a video recording. Her ‘inner ear,’ which is how she hears herself, was telling her that her diction was understandable; the recording told her differently.

Voicing training is certainly one method of improving your diction because once you start to use your chest cavity to power your sound, your diction will automatically improve. This is the result I have found with all of my clients, whether English is their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd language. It is surprising to hear the difference in a before and after recording.

Becoming more aware of how you sound and how you enunciate your words should be your goal if you would like to speak more distinctly. And, in the process, you will discover one of the best means of learning how to control your speed which can also be part of the problem.

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady, Nancy Daniels, offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as the Voicing It! the only video training on voice improvement. If you would like to see a wonderful example of volume control and diction, watch Mohammad's ‘before & after’ video clip at Nancy's Voice Training website.