As a UK national who occasionally teaches English to non-native speakers, I am often asked about my own accent which some of my students think is very unusual.
I was brought up in West London in the 1980s. The cultural groups with whom I was surrounded were mainly of English, Irish, West Indian and Caribbean origin. Accordingly, they were native English speakers albeit with a very wide variety of accents. Each first generation group had its own sound but the second generation, with whom I attended school, mostly spoke in a fairly unremarkable London accent of the type that you just don’t really hear any more. I guess this is why younger non-native English speakers ask me about mine.
Most of us are familiar with the concept that how we say something is as important – if not more so – than what we actually say. This article takes a look at how we can craft the right tone.
It was UCLA academic Albert Mehrabian who taught us that good communication is made up of three parts:
Body language; and
Tone of voice
I lead learning groups in both presentation skills and autism support. Within these sessions, we spend a fair bit of time thinking about how we may need to tailor our communication if the receiver has a barrier to their understanding – as in the case of an autistic person. Or, if we ourselves are a little unsure about the communication – as with someone who is new to public speaking or writing for an audience.
Professor Lupin taught Hogwarts students to banish the terrifying boggarts by chanting the spell, “Ridikulous!” accompanied by a loud crack of their wands. This caused the boggart to assume a funny, no-longer-terrifying appearance, and thus lose its power to scare.
Now if you don’t know Harry Potter, this probably won’t mean a lot so, in summary, the principle is that you cannot be scared of something that appears silly or daft. Things are only terrifying when we give them the power to be. Or in the famous words of, President Roosevelt, ‘the only thing to fear, is fear itself.’
As it’s Halloween week, when everyone’s thoughts turn to things that scare them, it seems topical to think about the fear that is number two on thelist of common phobias – glossophobia, or fear of speaking in public.
I was reminded of this recently when I spoke to a delegate who shared that the thought of standing up and speaking in front of people was his absolute nightmare. This gentleman was a senior manager and openly admitted that while he enjoyed his job, liked and trusted his colleagues, he would mentally freak at the thought of having to give a presentation or a speech in front of them. An acquaintance who dreads public speaking described the fear as, “paralysing” or “petrifying”. He didn’t necessarily mind explaining a point in front of a meeting group, but he froze the second he thought he had to stand up on stage in front of people. Continue reading “Does Public Speaking Spook You? Six Strategies to Exorcise your Fears”