In this podcast episode I talk about making yourself into a high quality speaker and the benefits it brings to your life. Ask yourself this important question: Have you developed your speaking skills to the optimum level that will bring you success in life?
English Jade is a podcast of high level English training for non-native speaker professionals. In this episode I talk about a common problem when it comes to improving your accent and speaking skills: Finding the time to practice. If you struggle finding the time to practice your speaking skills, listen to this episode as I will share strategies that will make you use your time more effectively. These strategies work for everyone — No matter if you are the busiest person in the world! Remember: If your goal is to speak well, you have to do the practice it takes!
Conversation Skills Advice
How to start a conversation wherever you are in the world with conversation skills coach Benjamin.
Not knowing what to say in conversation means that many people hold back from beginning conversations with new people because they are afraid creating awkward silence in conversation.
Benjamin the conversation coach teaches us a simple conversation skills technique for beginning a conversation anywhere and with any person. All you need to do to avoid awkward silences in conversation is to simply notice what is happening around you and then make observations based on what you see.
As Benjamin advises, when applying this technique it’s important not to judge or assess your observations before you speak. You should just say what you observe, even if you think that it is not interesting enough to share. You may think that the dusty table is not an appropriate topic to observe in conversation, but actually saying such an observation can serve to take the conversation in an unpredictable and energising direction – you just won’t know until you speak up and share your observation!
To keep the conversation interesting it is necessary to make new observations whenever you feel the energy of the conversation is falling or when you don’t have anything new to say about the topic.
By talking about what is happening around us and paying attention to our surroundings we can avoid asking question after question in conversation. It means that the conversation is more organic and unpredictable than it would be if you were to simple ask typical ‘getting to know you questions’. You will also find that although you are mainly talking about impersonal topics of conversation (for example talking about a chair or painting in the room), you get to know quite a bit about the person to whom you are talking.
Next time you are having a conversation with a relative stranger try out Benjamin’s conversation skills technique. You don’t need to prepare anything in advance; simply observe what you see around you.
Voice Training Exercises to Do at Home
Developing your voice is practical and physical work in which change is achieved as a result of regular practice. It’s not possible to improve your voice merely by reading about how the voice works – you actually need to do the work and experiment for yourself.
One of the best ways to get to know your voice better is to start recording yourself, either on camera or just your voice recorded on to your phone. The point of recording yourself is so that you can listen again and again to the way you sound. Over time you become really familiar with your voice, which allows you to observe the aspects of your speech that you would like to improve.
Whenever you listen or watch one of your recorded speech performances, you should aim to give yourself constructive feedback. It’s a waste of energy to be self-critical about what you hear or see. It’s a much better use of your energy to focus on the improvements that you can see that you’re making. This is what helps you to stay motivated and enthusiastic about doing voice work.
People with communication blocks who have always struggled with issues related to speech and communication (such as shyness) will benefit greatly from recording themselves. This is because when you see or hear yourself in a recorded speech performance you may have an important realisation about the way you express yourself. You might find that you are not as expressive as you had previously thought. You may realise that you’re not the animated person that you considered yourself to be; you see instead that your expression is contained and dull. Having this important realisation helps you to push against your barriers of self-expression to become more open and connected in the way that you speak and relate to others.
Recording yourself is also good for the development of your speaking voice as it allows you to experiment with your voice in a way that may not be possible in your everyday life. It’s a good idea to keep your voice work fun and interesting because it will help you maintain interest in what you are doing. One of the ways to do this is to experiment with your voice by being more theatrical as you record yourself. This means that you don’t speak in your normal voice: you speak in your best ‘actor’ voice as you do your recordings.
When you are pleased with a speech performance that you have recorded, you can then go a step further by sharing your performance with others. This can be done by publishing your recording as a podcast or even as a video on your own YouTube channel. You can also do it by signing up to be a volunteer reader at Librivox. Sharing your voice work with others in these ways really helps to bring a sense of purpose to what you are doing as it is a way for you to share your self-expression with others.