A lot of people contact me because they want to speak more clearly, more distinctly. What I explain to my clients and customers is that my goal for them is not to eliminate their accent – merely to have them be understood the 1st time they say it. I like accents. An accent or even a dialect is part of what makes you, you.
As a voice coach, I video record all my clients in a ‘before’ and ‘after’ situation. What amazes me is how much more distinctly everyone speaks in their ‘after’ recording. No matter what their 1st language is, everyone’s diction improves when they discover their ‘real’ voice. And, voice training also works for all languages. If your mother tongue is French, for example, voice training will work when you speak French or any other language because good voice training deals with the placement of the voice and not the language spoken.
In order to improve your diction, you will need to:
1. breathe with the support of your diaphragm;
2. find the optimum pitch of your speaking voice; and,
3. use your chest cavity to power your sound.
In the process, you will probably find your ‘real’ voice to be deeper in pitch and most definitely warmer in quality. And, because of the new placement of the voice, you will gain control over your speed.
Often, poor diction is the result of speaking too quickly. Add an accent to words being said at 100 m.p.h. and you have a recipe for not only making a lot more mistakes but also not saying your words clearly.
One of the problems is that many people are unaware of how unclear their diction is until they hear themselves on a recording. I recently held a group workshop and one of the participants was a woman from China. When Zoe talked, the voice she heard in her head said that her diction was clear. However, when she heard herself on the video recorder, she was stunned because she recognized that her diction was most indistinct – she had difficulty understanding her own words on the recording.
Keep in mind that the sound of your voice inside your head is not how the rest of the world hears you. Unfortunately, what you hear on your voicemail, answering machine, or any other type of recording equipment is the truth.
Don’t worry about eliminating your accent; just clean it up!
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.