Improving Your Speech Patterns

Working as a speech coach, one of the successful techniques I use to help people speak clearly is to figure out where there may be snags in their speech patterns. Here are two of the most common.

1. Are you dropping volume at the end of sentences?

It is normal to soften your volume at the end of a thought, but don’t trail your sentences into oblivion.  Assess your volume by taping yourself and checking to make sure you can hear the last words of your sentences.  Practice speaking or reading aloud with conscious attention on lessening the decibel drop.  Use these practice sentences:

“Let’s meet in the lobby of the downtown Marriott.”

“Sarah James was finally promoted to regional manager.”

In these examples, if you don’t keep your volume up, you’ll be swallowing your main point.

2. Are you jumbling words together?

Some degree of assimilation, or blending sounds and words together, is normal in conversational speech.  An example of assimilation is the phrase, “How are you?”  The owsound at the end ofhownaturally blends into the ain are, so the phrase sounds more like “Hower you?”

When sounds and words blend too much, clarity collapses in a condition specialists call over assimilation.  Over assimilation makes it difficult for a listener to tell if you said “at you” or “ah choo,” “we can” or “weekend.”

You can find out if you tend to jumble your words by listening to a five-minute sample of a telephone call or conversation you have taped.  If possible, ask a friend or relative to listen with you to provide objective feedback.  Note any words or phrases that were difficult to understand.  Pay particular attention to long words, names, and the ends of sentences.

If you are jumbling more than twice a minute, here is a list or words and phrases that are frequently assimilated.  Practice saying them incorrectly, then correctly for contrast. Add additional phrases to the list as you observe yourself in everyday talking.

cancha              can’t you

cudja                could you

generly            generally

havta                have to

howzitgon        how’s it going

I dunno            I don’t know

probly              probably

shuda               should have

uzhly               usually

wanna              want to

wuncha            wouldn’t you

It helps, but it doesn’t require executive coaching to master these two communication skills. Being aware of them and practicing them on your own will have you well on your way to good communication.

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