The speaker's culture and habits often have much to do with the vocal traits of a speech. Thus, pronunciation, articulation and dialect are three very personal aspects of speech delivery.
Vocal Traits in Speech Delivery
So, you and your friends are sitting around the dining hall talking about your Poli-Psych class. Each of you has a different instructor, but the subject is the same.
Your friend Smitster says, 'I really like Professor Bigelow. He tells us all kinds of interesting stuff, and his accent is so cool. British, you know.' Meanwhile, you are like, 'What? Really, dude? My professor is so boring. I can hardly understand her. She has an accent thicker than mud and a personality to match.'
Well, it really all comes down to vocal traits. These are characteristics that make up the way a speaker speaks, including the way he pronounces his words, the way he articulates and even the dialect he uses. It doesn't seem like any big deal, but how the message comes across is just as important as the message itself.
Katie Bobbins, a motivational speaker, should have practiced her pronunciation when she told the audience, 'If you want to see the Secrets to Success, you will have to ask for it.'
Ah! Pronunciation makes all the difference. This is how consonants and vowels are formed and even where syllables are accentuated.
Imagine the horror when the speaker mispronounced one very small word. Had the speaker practiced, she would have avoided a terrifying situation.
There are ways to avoid situations like this:
- Record yourself first
- Listen for mispronounced words
- Take frequent pauses
- Visualize the word spelled out on paper
- Create a spelling that will help you to remember how to say the word
Pronunciation is not the only thing a speaker can mess up.
Articulation Is an Art
If pronunciation means putting the consonants and vowels together, then articulation is how well we put the vowels and consonants together and pass them through our lips and mouth. Let's face it; we work hard to write a speech that is compelling and interesting. It's important to convey the information in an intelligent way.
What sounds better to you? 'I dint bring visuals to show you today,' or 'I did not bring visuals to show you today.' Yes, I thought so. The best way to improve articulation is to practice it in your everyday life. Listen to others as well.
If a friend tells you he is 'gunna' pick you up after school, think about that and find a way to properly articulate the same statement. He must have meant he was 'going to.'
Get it? Practice enough and it will become a habit. Another consideration is dialect.
You've heard it before. I say tomato; he says tomato. When I say tomato, I am actually saying 'TO-MAY-TO.' When he says it, it sounds like this: 'TO-MAH-TO.'
See the difference? Dialect accounts for that. It is a form of language used by certain groups or regions, and they can be complicated at times. Let's see this in action one more time.
Take a couple having this exchange about grammar. Sally may say to her husband, 'How many times have I told you that saying ain't is not the way educated people speak!'
It does not have to solely be the way something is pronounced. It can be the language itself. John may respond by saying, 'Well, we all weren't raised as big city grammar queens!' But what he is really saying is that he has 'no formal education.' Since our dialect is a part of who we are based on our culture or region, it is not so easy to simply lose it.
But there are a few things that can be done to be more aware of it:
- Know your audience
- Think of several ways to say the same thing and choose what is most appropriate
- Speak slower and pause between thoughts
While this may not erase your use of familiar words and terms completely, it will give you a little more time to think about what you wish to say next.
To sum it all up, vocal traits are characteristics that make up the way a speaker speaks. This is part of our culture and even personalities.
Pronunciation is how consonants and vowels are formed and even where syllables are accentuated, like using 'aks' when you really meant to say 'ask.'
Articulation is how well we put the vowels and consonants together and pass them through our lips and mouth, like using 'dint' rather than 'didn't' in a sentence.
Don't forget dialect. It is a form of language used by certain groups or regions.
When speaking before an audience, it is best to take time, pause between thoughts, and, most of all, know your audience. This will give you a chance to say just the right thing.
Following this lesson, you should be able to:
- Define vocal traits, pronunciation, articulation and dialect
- Explain ways to avoid making mistakes with pronunciation, articulation and dialect when speaking in public