We don’t want to hear the book on your head (or All About Pronunciation)

I’ve been in and out of the studio lately, coaching bands, singers, and rappers. It’s a big part of what I do, and I love watching the songs emerge and grow as we work together. A big part of that is pronunciation coaching. This is something I also train my clients on when they have to give a presentation or a TED Talk. If people can’t understand what you are saying, then there’s not much sense in writing killer lyrics or creating a fabulous presentation, now, is there? (The correct answer here is ‘no’.)

Let me give you some tips and tricks on how to speak or sing with confidence.

The biggest trick is to NOT think about your pronunciation while you’re talking (or singing). You should have practised and polished it before you got up on that stage or entered the recording studio.

Part of your preparation, along with the creation of your text, should be working on how you deliver your message. Not just how the words are structured and organised on paper, but how they come out of your mouth. Phrasing and flow is important. If you focus on saying one word at a time, and making each word perfectly clear, then I guarantee you that you have just created the biggest Vibe Killer possible.  It sounds like you are singing or talking with a book balanced on top of your head. No one wants to hear that.

You need to speak in phrases, not word by word. Most people have to work on what I call ‘knitting’ – which is hooking the ending of one word into the beginning of the next word and having it ‘flow’ together. You also need to think about what is the most important part of your sentence, and use your voice to emphasise that. Each sentence should be viewed as a wave, with the most important information at the ‘top’ of the wave. And record yourself to make sure that you’re not ending every sentence with your voice going up. Many people do this without realising it, and it sounds like they are constantly checking for agreement or asking a question. There goes your credibility. While you’re at it, check your recording to see how many times you’ve said ‘uh’ or ‘um’. Thanks!

Having natural and confident pronunciation is a process that takes some time. You can’t improve your pronunciation while standing on the stage or in the studio – it’s actually too late at that point. You need to practise your phrasing beforehand, and then, when you’re up their giving your all, just speak or sing right from the heart. It’s that simple. If you’re thinking while you’re singing, then I’m thinking when I’m listening. I don’t want to think. I want to feel. I want to be moved and captured and inspired by your story. No one has ever left a TED Talk saying – “OMG – did you hear how he pronounced the word ‘comfortable’? That was so awesome!”

So, my darling. No books on the head. Just practise and analyse what you are doing BEFORE you actually do it. Then get up there and move mountains with your passion, your knowledge, and your emotion.
Leave the book at home, and read it with a nice cappuccino on a rainy day.
Sending you a million babies hula-hooping,
X buffi
PS: You can still download my free executive Masterclass on Business Grammar. It’s a great way to find out what you’ve been doing wrong in English, and how you (or, your colleagues, of course) just might have misled a client by using the wrong structure in English. Try it and let me know what you think!

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