Does Pronunciation Really Matter When Giving A Speech?

It turns out that pronunciation really does matter  <br /><a href=" "><span style="font-size: xx-small;">Image Credit:  Lone Star College Publications</span></a> <!-- -->
It turns out that pronunciation really does matter
Image Credit: Lone Star College Publications

When we give a speech, one of the most important things that we want to accomplish is to find a way to connect with our audience. If we can make this happen, then what we tell them just might sink in and perhaps we can use the importance of public speaking to change their lives with our speech. If we can connect with them, then we have a better chance of having them listen to our message and accept what we are telling them. We’ve got a lot of different ways to make this connection happen; however, one way that we don’t talk about very often is the simplest: pronunciation.

What Is Pronunciation?

So this brings up the obvious question: just exactly what is pronunciation? It turns out that pronunciation is a speaking technique that works best when the listener is not aware of it. When our audience does not notice how we are saying our words, then we are doing something correct. What we want is for the pronunciation of our words to not be a distraction from our speech.

As an example of how important pronunciation is, think for a moment back to the last time that you heard someone singing – off key! It goes without saying that when we hear music presented this way, it can be very hard to enjoy it. As speakers, we need to understand that mispronouncing words is very similar to singing off key – our audience won’t enjoy it.

One of the most important things for speakers to learn to pronounce correctly are definite and indefinite articles. The definite article is the word “the”. Indefinite articles are the words “a” and “an”. We need to understand that in English “the” has two pronunciations: “tha” and “thee”. The rule for using the correct form of the is if the word that comes after “the” starts with a consonant, the you use “tha” and if it starts with a vowel you use “thee”. This means that you say “tha table” and “thee elevator”.

How Can We Make Pronunciation Work For Us?

One of my biggest challenges when I am giving a speech is to get people’s names and places correct. It turns out that this a big part of using correct pronunciation in your next speech. The members of your audience like to hear both their names and their hometowns pronounced correctly. Not all that long ago this was not a big deal – it seemed like everyone had common names like Tom, Dick, and Harry. However, the world has become a much smaller place and now there are a lot of names from different places that we need to be able to pronounce correctly.

We also have to realize that in addition to emphasis, the sounds that we make are also important to our audience. When we are addressing an audience they will be quick to notice when we pronounce a word correctly – and especially quick to notice when we pronounce a word incorrectly. As speakers we need to take the time to make sure that we understand what our audience wants to hear. If we take the time to use proper, everyday pronunciation our audiences will be more likely to pay attention to what we are telling them and with a little luck they will walk away with a good impression of both us and the message that we delivered to them.

What All Of This Means For You

Every time that we give a speech, we have a goal in mind. We want to be able to use the benefits of public speaking to connect with our audience and with a little luck, use our speech to somehow change their lives. The challenge that we face in trying to do this is that all that we have to work with are our words. This is why if we want to connect with our audience, we need to become very aware of our pronunciation.

Pronunciation is key to making our audience pay attention to what we are telling them. If they are spending time paying attention to how we are pronouncing words, then they won’t be listening to the message in our speech. We need to understand that knowing how to properly pronounce words like “the” can be key to capturing our audience. Additionally, we need to take the time to make sure that we get both people’s names and locations correct. These are the words that will make our audience the most happy. Our audience will be listening to us. We need to make sure that we are pronouncing words correctly – if we don’t, then they will notice!

The great thing about pronunciation is that it is something that is firmly within our control. If we take the time to think about our pronunciation when we are giving a speech then we will have an opportunity to make our next speech even better. If we can carefully craft every word that comes out of our mouth, then we will boost the chances that our audience will pay attention to us and just might end up being influenced by what we have to tell them.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What is the best way to improve the way that you pronounce the words that you will use in your next speech?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it – giving a speech is a lot of work. It’s a lot of work to prepare the speech and then it’s even more work to actually give it. If we are going to go to all of that effort, we really want to use the importance of public speaking to get our audience to remember what we’ve told them. However, all too often that does not happen. What’s missing here is that our audience won’t remember what we’ve told them if we don’t find a way to connect with them during our speech. How go about doing that is just one more thing that we have to get good at doing.