You don’t need to lose your accent in order to be a great speaker.
But you WILL need to make some adjustments of the way you speak.
When I coach international professionals to deliver speeches or speak clearly during meetings and conference calls, we focus on two skills.
- Lenthening the vowels in stressed syllables.
- Speaking with phrases and pauses.
Why lengthen your vowels?
When you lengthen the vowels in stressed syllables, American listeners will understand your words. At least most of the time.
That’s because we Americans conditioned to listen for the vowels in stressed syllables.
There are specific rules for which syllable you need to stress. If you’re not a native speaker of American English, these are rules you’ll need to learn.
Why speak using phrases and pauses?
Speaking with phrases and pauses is a technique that all great speakers use. Non native speakers hesitate to speak this way because they think they’ll sound slow or stupid.
That’s not the case though.
You’ll actually sound more confident if you speak using phrases and pauses.
Think about the speaking style of Thomas Kurian, Ernesto Sirolli or Indra Nooyi, (all three are non native speakers of American English).
These great speakers understand that speaking in phases enables you to speak with a pace that’s easy to follow. They understand that the pause is a powerful tool for emphasizing an important point.
The article below by Anett Grant in Fast Company has some powerful examples of why you should stretch out your vowels and speak using phrases and pauses.
If you’re a non native speaker of American English who’s trying to improve the way you communicate, check it out. It’s an interesting read!
Stretch out the vowels in stressed syllables, speak using phrases and pauses. You’ll be good!
About the author
Susan Ryan is an accent reduction coach. Contact her with your questions about clear American speech.