Slowing down — it’s a win-win.

A good speaker gives the audience time. Slowing down can make a speaker sound more confident, and help the listener understand the message. It’s a win-win.

That applies to everyone. And it can be especially true for speakers with an accent.

Accents are an asset. They give the audience a peek into the complexity of a person. They show a life experience beyond their current location, a dip into the depth of their character.

There may be times, however, when an accent does hinder the clarity of a message. Sometimes specific speech sounds are missing, sometimes words aren’t highlighted in the way listeners expect, and the meaning of the message is lost. How can you tell the difference between the part of an accent that celebrates your life experience, and the part that leads to misunderstanding?

It’s the difference between nativeness and intelligibility.

Listen to a quick 30 seconds of this video to see a great example of a clear and accented speaker:

This delivery of this speech is solid. It’s clear and easily received. And accented.

This is Accent Clarity.

To see what Cynthia sounded like before our work together, listen here:

We had very specific speech goals to address. Speech rate is part of it, and it is the most obvious in this example. We changed that specifically through word stress by lengthening out the stressed syllables (e.g. deVELoper). And through pausing and intonation. We also targeted the ‘th’ sound, only because Cynthia is a perfectionist. (I usually don’t bother with “th”—substituting it with another sound doesn’t usually affect clarity.) Cynthia’s confidence in this performance is also enhanced by her breathing patterns. I start with a solid breathing foundation with most of my clients, and it often yields unexpected results.

Accent Clarity clients may work on English consonants, vowels, or (in my opinion the most important) English prosody (stress, rhythm, intonation.) Most work on a combination of all three. Regardless, the goal is never to rid the speaker of their accent. Only to make their speech clear and confident.

Cynthia was a good speaker to begin with, but her latest speech shows impressive progress. Who knows where you’ll see her next.

Find out what parts of your speech might be limiting your message, and which simply highlight your life experience. What to change, and what to celebrate.

One Reply to “Slowing down — it’s a win-win.”

  1. Pingback: That Awkward Accent Question – Mary Houle, M.Sc.