We have been doing more work in Shanghai, and through our travels have been reminded of the value of helping English as a Second Language (ESL) presenters with effective enunciation techniques.
We wanted to share these techniques with any of you who also present with English as a second language. The key to these techniques is to exaggerate when you practice.
Enunciation Techniques for ESL Speakers:
Open your mouth:
English has long vowel sounds that require your mouth to be open wider than is necessary in many other languages. We recommend you practice your presentation in private with an exaggerated open mouth to build those muscles. One method is to place a pencil between your teeth as you practice. This will help you to overly enunciate as you speak.
By slowing down your pace, your audience will better be able to process less familiar sounds or accents. Try practicing at half speed. While this may feel immensely slow in practice, it will build muscle memory so that when you do present, your speech will be slower, clearer, and easier for the audience to understand.
Cultural differences can sometimes lead ESL speakers to speak too softly for a U.S business setting. This often leads to words trailing off, or unheard syllables which can make it hard for your message to be heard. To help your voice project, identify the furthest away person in the room, and imagine you want your voice to carry through and beyond them.
English-speaking audiences are not expecting perfect English or accent-free articulation. They just need to be able to understand you. Combine these techniques with a compelling message, and watch your audience engage as your message is heard and understood.
PS – If you want to practice these techniques and get immediate feedback, we recommend you try the free Orai App that we learned about earlier this year. Based on research and AI, this app offers you real time feedback on your progress. Make sure to browse around the app for the free lessons.