Friday, February 15, 2013

Communication Breakdown Part 2 5,943

*  All art and images courtesy "Google Images"  Title work by FB Noodleman
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Part 2

by Felicity Blaze Noodleman

This is a continuation of last week’s article which can prepare us as we are using the communication tools available in the work place these days.  To prepare the man or woman and can make us more effective communicators.  This article will cover some of the basics we may or may not already know but don’t always use.  There is one other area of modern communications which was not discussed in last week’s article which we will discuss this week.  Video conferencing and video presentations which will be covered later in this article.

The root of all our communications skills is obviously our personal abilities of speaking and writing.  This half of communications will deal with our basic abilities to communicate and how we present our selves.  As I mentioned last week; improving our vocabulary will greatly enhance how we are received by others.  For the purposes of this article I will be using all of the $5.00 and $10.00 words I can think of to help you enlarge your vocabulary and be writing about some bad speech which you should eliminate.  So get your dictionary and thesaurus you might need to check the meanings of a word or two here and there.

Most of us spend a fair amount of time in our grooming and personal appearance trying to look out best insuring we have the right clothes and hair, but how much time do we spend on our intellectual appearance?  Our verbal skills are in fact at least half of our overall appearance. How others perceive us and can make the difference between a good impression or otherwise.

Speaking skills can be broken down into three different areas.  First of all; enunciation – do we speak clearly or do we slur our speech?  Secondly; do we speak with a heavy regional accent?  Thirdly; vocabulary – are we well educated?  Good speaking habits accumulate throughout our lives and it’s never too late in life to begin improving our skills.  Remember:  every journey begins with a single first step – eventually we will arrive at our desired destination.

Speaking Clearly

Don't assume people already know what you are speaking about.  Speak slowly enough so others are able to mentally process the information you are communicating.  Also take into consideration other factors such as room size and conditions.  What you are saying may sound fine to you but for others who may be in the back of the room might have problems hearing what you are saying. 

Most of us have the ability to speak clearly but don’t because of habits we have unconsciously learned throughout our lives.  Have you ever heard a recording of yourself?  Hearing yourself speak is one of the quickest motivators for self improvement.  The first time I ever heard myself speaking from a recording I was shocked!  Is this what I sound like to others?  This is the moment I decided to devote my energies to becoming a better communicator.

Poor speech can sound absolutely atrocious!  Everything from sounding like you have a mouth full of marbles to sounding like you are drunk with strong drink can inhibit clear speech.  I’ll cut right to the chase with this problem and give you the solution for correcting this difficulty.  Speaking more slowly and pronouncing the words you’re speaking as they are actually spelled will illuminate over 90% of most speaking problems.

Good sources in the media and television which can help us speak better are network news programs.  If you observe the news anchor person you will notice they speak a little slower and a little more “deliberate” pronunciation of each word speaking it separately with a rhythm or cadence which avoids the words in their speech from running together.  They also avoid slurring their speech.  Another source to learn good speech patterns is PBS.  PBS documentaries are always well written and the narrators are usually well known actors who have mastered the techniques of good speaking principals.

Many cartoon characters are known for their speech impediments and is the
basis for their character traitsAs a child I developed  a problem speaking the
letters "R" and "W".  I sounded like "Elmer J. Fudd"!  "Debbie has a wittle white wabbit",
I would say.   A few sessions with the school speech therapist quickly cured my problems.

A small percentage of people speak with actual speech impediments such as stuttering.  There are also those who have physical limitations such as a cleft pallet or dental problems but even these people can achieve significant improvements through speech therapy and a little practice.  In some cases medical attention may be needed to correct the problems and can be corrected at an early age. 

Becoming tong tied is not uncommon to those who have limited experiencing 
in public speaking.  With some practice this "not so severe condition" can be easily 
overcome by slowing down and concentrating of the subject at hand. 
 This condition is closely associated with "Stage Fright" and is normal for beginners.


English is spoken the world over.  Accents are part of discovering people from other parts of the world.  You might be surprised how much those from a place like "India" for example know about our language! 

Regional accents can become a problem if they are too thick and spoken to quickly.  Now that we are living in a global economy it is not unusual to be dealing with others who are outside of our regional area and might sound a little strange as they speak English.  With a little practice people can usually “soften” accents.  Once again:  speaking more slowly and pronouncing the words your speaking as they are actually spelled can be a vast improvement.

While most accents are a result of growing up in different regions of the world there are a few accents which are learned or cultivated.  Two of these self imposed accents are strangely enough effeminate in nature.  The “Valley Girl” mannerism in speaking and “The Gay” accent are both examples of speaking patterns which have to be practiced and learned.  Another accent which I have found to be deliberate in nature are some “Southern” accents or dialects.  Southerners from the US region are very proud of their heritage and want everyone to know where they came from.  They intentionally over do it!


Reading is where vocabulary building all begins.

Reading and educational television is the key to self improvement in this area.  Once we have read or heard a new word look it up in the dictionary or ask for its meaning.  Try to begin using the new words we have learned as often as possible.  Soon these will be the words we begin to think of in our daily conversational speech.  Writing is also a good method to enlarge vocabulary.  Looking up words from the Thesauruses will give us options for the simpler words we normally speak with and help point out better and more specific words. 

Writing is also a good method of pointing out our speech deficiencies.  Much as recording how we speak, writing will show us where improvements can be made.  After you write a paragraph proof read it.  The first time I began to work with word processors it pointed out areas of improvement for me.  Again I wondered; do I really talk like that?  In a sense we have to brain wash ourselves to become better with speaking and writing skills!

Once we have begun to give our speaking and writing skills more attention we will then note the areas of grammar and enunciation.  Both of these areas can put the final touches on our quest for self improvement.  We learned the basics for these two areas in Junior High School and now in adulthood it is time to put them to work.


Good grammar never changes.  It's still the same as when you learned it in school.  
All we have to do is make use of it!

Grammar if you will remember is the rules with which we put together and construct a sentence.  The tenses of past, present and future.  In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that governs the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics. Linguists do not normally use the term to refer to orthographical rules, although usage books and style guides that call themselves grammars may also refer to spelling and punctuation.


Typical phonetics chart.

Enunciation is the emphasis we put on words as we speak them.  The utterance or pronunciation of the words we are speaking.  Along with enunciation we use diction and pronunciation.  Diction is the accent, inflection, intonation, and speech-sound quality manifested by an individual speaker, usually judged in terms of prevailing standards of acceptability; enunciation.  Pronunciation is the act or result of producing the sounds of speech, including articulation, stress, and intonation, often with reference to some standard of correctness or acceptability: They are arguing about the pronunciation of “forte” again. His pronunciation retains charming traces of his early years in Ireland.  

All of these aspects of speech are very closely related and are essential as we learn to speak with accuracy.   Not only do we need to pronounce the words correctly we need enunciation and emphasis with major key words and phrases so that we are not speaking with a monotone and putting everyone to sleep.  Rhythm and cadence also aid enunciation and allow our speech to come alive and captivate the listener.  Enunciation is the punctuation of oral speech.

If you have a question about how a word is pronounced or enunciated simply check the dictionary to see how the word is divided and the notations indicating where the emphasis points are when it is spoken.  Dictionaries will also spell out the word "phonetically" to help in pronouncing the word.  Broadcasters have used their own dictionary for word pronunciation since the days of radio.  The National Broadcasting Corporation's (NBC) dictionary has been a standard in the industry and is widely consulted. 


 Making your subject come alive is facilitated with body language and gesturing. 

Our body language can strongly emphasize any subject we choose to talk about.  Facial expressions and hand gestures can help us become more animated as we speak.  Gesturing will help us hold the listeners attention as we cover information which might be otherwise dull and boring.  I’ll give two tips here.  In a one on one situation hand gestures should be kept to a minimum as they could perceived as threatening.  Large and grandiose gestures should be used when speaking to large groups or gatherings and maybe even video conferencing and video presentations.


This says it all!  If you want to be taken seriously than speak like a professional!

The use of profanity and the words associated with this kind of language is very old indeed.  All of these mostly four letter words can be found in the dictionary and all are proper words.  They are also very base words, as in earthy for the lack of a better description.  Some people cannot utter a sentence without them.  In English today however, we have a multitude of words to take the places of these poor four letter “descriptive modifiers”.  

Those who speak with too much profanity quickly begin to sound like a broken record.  When every other word is "F" this or "F" that, it soon begins to boar others.  These four letter words need to be eliminated from our language if we want people to respect and take us seriously.

Video Presentations

Video telecommunication at home with family and friends is simple.

Video telecommunications and video presentations are becoming more common today and filling a need for communications over great distances and addressing large groups which until recently was not possible with the exception of television.  It is simple adding a video cam to your computer and you will be visually communicating with family and friends live.  Your only limitation is your imagination.  Graphics, pictures and video can all be added to dress up your presentation.  You even have the option of making a video file and emailing it as attachment for viewing later.

Large Corporations employ "Internet Technology" personnel and graphic specialists to stay on the cutting edge of their business presentations and keep their companies in touch as they coordinate their world wide conglomerates.  Smaller companies may outsource their video and graphic requirements to a vendor to have a professional presentation produced for them.  The sky is the limit these days and the cost and expenses for doing a show to be seen with a live conference is quite reasonable.

Video communications.  Keeping everyone on the same page - even in today's 
global work place and economy.

Hopefully the tips we have covered will serve as reminders while we strive to become better communicators in today’s high tech age.  I have no doubt that we all can become better communicators grasping and mastering the communication tools at our disposal.  Thanks for being with us.  This is Felicity hoping you won't have a communication breakdown!

 Be ready to step up to the podium!

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