Feb 2 2010
Professional Accent Reduction for Senior Executives - How and Why?
"Your concerns are accurate. As tolerant as people are, an accent impedes a smooth flow of communication and may stand in your way of moving up the corporate ladder.
It is great that you are already aware of the issue and want to take action. The most important step to take is to think about the way you speak, and take a half hour or so every day to practice the sounds that you want to improve.
Here are 5 ways to get you started:
1. Have someone assess your business vocabulary and draw up a list of job specific words that you use every day with your colleagues and in presentations, which you need to master. If possible, have that person speak the words into an audio recorder; use this as daily practice while driving to and from the office. You can also go online and listen to these words on sites which have vocal recordings (encarta.com for example).
2. Watch TV and listen to Public Broadcast Radio. The more you surround yourself with English speakers, and the more actively you listen to the way words are spoken, the faster you will improve. Many of my clients dismiss TV as inconsequential, but it is an amazing teaching machine. Countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden all have fabulous English speakers. Do you know why? They don’t dub US or UK TV shows or their movies so they are around English from early on.
3. Get an audio book from the library. First follow the text along with the speakers, and then record your own reading of a passage. Compare the differences between you and the speaker. Make a list of the words you say differently and practice them, reading aloud twice a day, and watch yourself improve.
4. If you are going to give a presentation, don’t do what many of my clients do and prepare the presentation on the plane the night before. You need to run through your presentation at least 5 times, not only to know your content, but to really control your grasp of the business vocabulary. It would be unfortunate if the audience walked away scratching their heads because they didn’t understand you.
5. The most important thing is to do something! Take action, start by listening to yourself, ask friends around you to help get started. It is embarrassing for some foreign professionals to do this, but isn’t it more embarrassing if you find out people around you don’t know what you are saying?
Angelika Blendstrup, PhD, coaches high-level foreign-born executives in International Business Communications, Interviewing Skills, Accent Reduction, Presentation Skills and Personal Branding 2.0. She teaches at Stanford University on topics including cross-cultural communications, managing virtual teams, the art of interviewing successfully and how to do business in the US. Angelika holds a Ph.D. in Bilingual, Bi-cultural Education from Stanford University and speaks five languages.
To contact Angelika and discuss how you may work together, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.professional-business-communications.com
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