It is baseball season and for those die-hard fans of the New York Yankees, it is another opportunity to listen to the melodic and well-articulated speech of their veteran announcer, Paul Olden. Perhaps you are not a Yankee fan, and not even a baseball fan. However, there are still lessons to be learned, so do not stop reading!
Never Too Late To Practice Speaking Better
A recent article in the New York Times focused on the Yankees’ announcer, Paul Olden. It was titled, “On Script and Off, Giving Voice to the Yankees”. It was enjoyable reading, particularly because Mr.Olden adheres to a lot of the vocal techniques that I teach my clients. Even as a successful professional, he still practices and arrives at the stadium two hours before a game to “warm up.” According to the article, Mr. Olden figures out “where in the script he would do well to incorporate pauses or where a particular word should be hit hard.” These are always effective techniques to use when speaking. An additional challenge faced by Mr. Olden these days is that many baseball players, whose names he has to announce when they come up to bat, are from many different countries. He needs to practice the pronunciation of their names so that he can correctly articulate their names when they step up to home plate. How do you do when you have to step up to the plate?
Techniques For Improving Your Speech
If you are in a position where you have to make presentations, teach a class of students, interact with patients, stand up in front of a jury, or audition for a role, how well prepared are you? Practice is very important to being successful in these situations. The skills you need to learn are:
- Control the speed of your speech
- Pause for emphasis and to allow your audience to process what you have said
- Learn to emphasize words to underscore the meaning of what you are trying to communicate
These are important speaking techniques, but the mechanics of your speech are just as important. The way in which you articulate determines how successful you will be in delivering your message.
When you speak with others on a personal or a professional level, how accurate is your articulation? Perhaps you have a noisy and distracting /s/ that has bothered you for years but you have never had the chance to correct it. If you tend to speak fast, your articulation will lack clarity and sharpness, and you will end up dropping the ends of your words. This can lead to miscommunication and to listener frustration. People can ask you to repeat yourself just so many times. More often than not, they will just give up and remove themselves from the conversation. However, if you are pronouncing the forty-four sounds of Standard American English correctly, your ability to speak well will be greatly enhanced.
Test Your Speech – Record and Listen
Put yourself to the test by recording yourself while you are on the phone with a friend, or when you are giving a presentation. Really listen to how you are speaking and how effective you think your speech and communications skills are to your listener. It is never too late to work on honing your speech and communication skills. If you are aware of areas in which you need to improve, practice over and over again until you are successful. At times, people can hear their errors and self-correct, but often working with a Speech Pathologist/Dialect Coach who specializes in speech improvement and presentation skills can more readily allow you to see progress. As baseball teams begin the new season, maybe it is time for your own personal spring training!