Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Express Yourself Clearly - 3 Speech Secrets to Help You Land Your Dream Job

The Straits Times, Singapore's leading English newspaper, published one of my articles today. Here is the full text if you missed it.

If you want to land that dream job, work on the way that you speak. Interviews are formal settings where you will be judged in many areas, and if you can’t express yourself clearly and confidently, you can kiss that job goodbye.

When you attend an interview, everything you do and say is being noticed, recorded and judged. From your clothes and shoes to your body language and speech, you must be polished.

When you answer questions and share your talents with your interviewer, keep these three speech secrets in mind to ensure that you make a long-lasting impression that sets you apart from the rest.

Finish your words

If you do not take the time and effort to articulate your words fully, what might be expected of the way you tackle projects? Do you work as sloppily as you speak?

Word endings that are often dropped are EDs, INGs and Ss. “I’m going to” is always better than “I’m gonna” in formal situations such as an interview.

When you talk about the past, be sure that you articulate the ED ending so you do not sound like you are making grammatical mistakes.

The letter S is another sound you will not want to forget, especially on verbs describing the actions of other people or situations: “She works…” “He goes…” “It takes…”

You will find that when you remember your word endings, your interviewer will be better able to understand you and your message will make a greater impact.

Articulate Consonant Sounds

If people often misunderstand what you are saying, it could be because you are not pronouncing consonant sounds correctly, or are confusing similar sounds.

Some commonly confused sounds are ones where the only difference in their pronunciation is whether or not you use your voice. For example, B and P are voiced and unvoiced sounds, respectively.

This means that your articulators (tongue, teeth, jaw and lips) are all in the same position to make the two sounds. The only difference is that you should not use your voice to make a P sound, but you should use your voice to make the B sound.

If you confuse these sounds, you will have a problem saying the word ‘problem’!
Other voiced and unvoiced pairs to watch out for are: D and T, Z and S, G and K, and V and F.

There are, of course, other challenging consonants depending on your linguistic background. Chinese speakers often have trouble with R and L, whereas Indian speakers commonly confuse V and W, for example.

It is important for you to be aware of sounds that could be holding you back and make a conscious effort to articulate them clearly. Polishing your speech in this way will make you easier to understand and show that you work towards perfection in every detail.

Slow Down

I am sure you would agree that interviews are nerve-wracking situations. When we get nervous and anxious, it is quite common that our speech quickens.

When this happens, there are two negative results: our speech suffers and we come across as lacking self-confidence. These are two things that absolutely can’t happen during an interview!

Manage your speed by focusing on articulating all the sounds in a word. This will naturally force you to speak at a slightly slower pace.

Pause between key points and when you want to grab the interviewers attention. Pauses also give your interviewer a chance to think about what you have just said and take any notes they feel are important.

You can also control your nerves by thinking about your breathing. Take long, deep breaths during pauses so that you don’t feel out of breath when you’re speaking. Sit up straight to enhance voice projection and sound more confident.

By speaking in a strong tone at a relaxed pace, you will come across as confident and controlled – just the kind of person your interviewer is looking for.

The way that you speak says a lot about the person you are. By enhancing your speech, you show a potential employer that you are well-educated, pay attention to detail and take pride in presenting yourself well.

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