Sabado, Hunyo 16, 2012

Basic Speaking Skills by Jolito Ortizo Padilla

This article is dedicated to my sisters (Otilia and Delia) , cousins (Richel, Eva, Aurora, Margarita RIP, Florita Ilustre,RIP, Elsie and Rex,  nephew (Rexone), Aunt (Carina Ortizo) and nieces who are successful educators.
Personal Qualities

To be a good speaker you need first and foremost to be able to express your ideas clearly. Your language should be simple and you material organized so that it can be easily followed. You should avoid trying to impress by using long, complicated words. Of course, you may use specialized vocabulary or jargon in some situation but you should take care to explain any terms that may be unfamiliar to your audience.

As well as clear thinking, speaking clearly also means uttering the words distinctly so that they are easily recognizable.

You should also make sure that the words you use say exactly what you mean. You therefore need a reasonably wide vocabulary so that you can choose words with precise meanings to suit your purpose.

The facts you should be correct, so you should take care to research your subject thorougly and ensure that any authorities you quote are reliable. You should also avoid making statements which go beyond the facts and which might therefore be challenged. Statements which begin " Everybody thinks..." or "Nobody in their right mind would accept... " are always dangerous and open to challenge, especially since they are likely to create a hostile reaction.

Always try to be courteous and friendly. However angry you feel, try to control your emotions and at least remain calm. Perhaps the best way to be courteous and polite is to put yourself in the other person's place. Try to make yourself feel what the other person is feeling. Putting yourself in the other person's place in this sense helps you to establish empathy for that person. This doesn't mean that you have to agree with them or their ideas, but it does help you to be understanding and be patient. Facial expression and tone of voice are obviously important here, especially in group discussions and interviews.

This really means being natural. There is always a danger when talking to strangers or people of higher status of becoming stiff and awkward, and trying to put on an act. This usually stems from lack of confidence. Of course, when you talk to your boss you may not talk in exactly the same manner as you would when you talk to a friend or colleague, but you should strive to be yourself as much as you can in all situations.

The best way of getting rid of these unnatural speech characteristics is to relax. When our muscles are tense, we have difficulty expressing ourselves naturally. Awkward movements are also the result of tension.

Try taking deep breath, This may help you to relax. If you freeze up with tension, you probably begin holding your breath without realizing it. If you can remind yourself to breath in natural manner, or even more deeply than usual, your muscles will be relaxed, and you will be too.

Eye Contact
The direction of gaze and length of gaze are important factors in synchronizing speech and signifying desire to be frienly, but it is worth reminding ourselves here how crucial eye contact is whenever people are speaking to one another.

A speaker who never looks at his or her listeners may be conveying messages like "I am not very interested in you", "I don't like you", "I am not very sure of myself, " I am not sure about what I am saying" or even " Don't believe what I am saying".

So when you are speaking give your listeners their fair share of ye contact. Don't keep your eyes on the desk, or in your lap or out of the window, and when you are talking to a large group move your eyes around the room who shows interest in them by looking at them, to a highly fluent speaker who reads down over their notes.

How you look can affect how well others understand you. Your appearance reflects how you see yourself-"self image". Since your listeners cannot help but notice your appearance they will receive metacommunications from the way you dress and your general grooming. In most speaking situations (apart from phome conversations and the radio) people see the speaker and form judgments about them even before they speak.

Attractive dress and good grooming are obviously important in formal situations: the public meeting, the job interview and so on. But being "dressed up" or "dressed formally" is not always practicable or even appropriate and in some jobs it would be absurd. Supposing you are in the middle of a dirty job and you are called to the manager's office or asked to explain something to a visitor, what then? Well, your personal appearance should commend you. Even oil stained overalls can convey the impression that they are well cared for and that you consider personal cleanliness and tidiness are important even when you are at work, tone things down for work.

- Personal cleanliness and tidiness
- Dress and appearnce appropriate to the situation

Good posture is also important. Someone who props up the wall or slouches in their chair as they speak conveys a message to their listeners which may surprise them. Their attitude is showing. They are either tired or bored or careless, or all three!And the listeners are not likelu to be impressed.

Another important reason for examining your posture -how you sit and stand when you are talking - is that posture is related to voice quality.

If you should slouch over, hang your head or let your shoulder droop, the quality of your voice will not be good , because your breathing is affected.You cannot draw as much breath in your lungs, nor do you have a complete control over how you let out the air.

Furthermore, if you slouch or bend your head down, your throat muscles, jaw and vocal chords, do not operate as freely as they should, with the muffled, poorly pronounced results we have seen.

Poor posture also affects your voice psychologically as well as physically. The sense of not caring about yourself or about anything-communicated by poor posture-creeps into your voice as well. If you have a hangdog look, your voice will probably have a hangdog sound. It will be listless and spiritless. A whining quality which most people find unpleasant may very well colour the tone of your voice.

By improving your posture when talking, you can do much toeards instilling in your voice and your whole manner four characteristics of good voice quality.
- Alertness
- Pleasantness
- Distinctness
- Expressiveness

Vocal Qualities
Don't think that you can't change the way you speak. You can and do control your voice all the time. Listen to the way you use your voice in different situations, raising and lowering the volume, adjusting the tone to suit particular circumstances and so on. You can improve your voice if you want to, but you have to work at it. The first step is to be aware of the factors which affect the sound of your voice.


The Mechanics of speech
Speech involves many mechanical skills. It requires a complicated manipulation of the diaphragm, the lungs and muscles of the chest as well as vocal chords, mouth, tongue and lips.

The vocal chords are rather rubber bands stretched across the ineterior of a kind of box called the larynx, behind what we call the Adam's apple. As the air in your lungs is forced up through the larynx and past the vocal chords, sound is produced. The sounds are affected first by the vocal chords, and then successively by the position of the jaw, the interior of the mouth, the tongue, teeth and lips. Of course, you are not aware of all this when you speak, unless excessive speaking, tiredness or emotion draws your attention to your voice.

To ensure that the sounds you produce are clear, your throat muscles must be relaxed, your jaw must be taut or rigid and your lips must be flexible and capable of assuming a variety of positions. If you have ever had an anaestheric injection at the dentist you will know what it does to your ability to move your lips properly to pronounce the words.

Pitch- a person whose voice has a high pitch may sound thin or squeaky or shrill. A person with low pitch will sound or throaty. When your vocal chords are stretched tight, the sound will be higher as the air is forced past them causing them to vibrate (like plucking a tight elastic band)

When people are frightened or tense, their vocal chords stretch tight and their voices tend to squeak. One way to relax your throst muscles is to practice this simple exercise:

Take a deep breath then, as you breath out, say several short syllables, for example:
"She gave us all a short talk on art."
Try it. Notice how the tightness disappears as you exhale. It is in fact, physically impossible to breath out and keep the muscles tight at the same time. This is why deep breathing can help you realx.

Volume- volume is more easily controlled than pitch, but practice is still required to get the right volume. Proper breathing is essential to volume control and good speaking. Practice taking deep breath and letting out the air with just enough force to generate the right volume. Learn how to project your voice so that you can be heard at great distances without yelling or sounding strained.

If you can control your voice and speak clearly without appearing to strain or shout or run out of breath, you will impress your listeners by the quality of your voice alone. They are likely to assume that you also know what you are talking about and will find it worth their while to listen to you.

The right volume depends on the situation. You should therefore note:
- where you are speaking ( in a small room or a large lecture room; in a room where sound echoes; indoors or out in the open), as the location will affect how well your words can be heard.
- the size of the group to whom you are speaking
- background noise, for example the nois of air conditioning

Diction and Accent- diction is the way in which you say or ponounce words, and is acquired. To some extent it is affected by your accent. Someone from the north will have different diction from someone who comes from London or America. Diction depends on "articulation" and "enunciation", which are terms used to describe how you pronounce words:

- articulation refers to the way people pronounce consonants
- enunciation refers to the way people pronounce vowels

If people articulate and enunciate well, that is clearly, they will have good diction. Good diction is generally considered to be the result of being well educated abd well informed.

However, it is important not to confuse diction with accent. Whatever your accent, you should pronounce your words clearly. Listen to television and radio announcers to hear the difference between accent and diction. There was a time when "BBC English" was held up as "the way to speak". Nowadays, every possible regional accent is represented and is quite acceptable because the speakers pronounce their words clearly; so like your accent , your diction will tell your listeners something about you.

If you mispronounce words, for example, "labratry" instead of " laboratory", nucular" instead of "nuclear" or drop your "hs" or "ts" , as in "Ave you go" the le'er"?, or slur your words. , you won't impress your listeners. In some situations this may not matter. In others, such as job interviews, it could mean the difference between getting something you want or need and not getting it.


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