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Enunciation is a skill worth developing in your effort to market your books

I once had a colleague who was a voice coach. Her business, in fact, was Vocal Intelligence. Pam regularly asserted that people who learn to properly enunciate are perceived to be more intelligent – whether they are or not – and, more often than not achieve more promotions and professional accolades than lazy speakers who have not bothered to develop proper vocal skills.

"Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall." — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

I was recently discussing this concept with some friends and colleagues and was reminded of a man I met in Toastmasters who runs a pitching school for aspiring baseball players. He had once upon a time made it to The Big Show, pitching 3.2 innings (11 outs for those keeping track) for the Boston Red Sox in the 1970s. This fellow didn’t stay with Toastmasters long, but one of his big enunciation boo-boos has stayed with me because it was memorable. Unfortunately, I’m sure he’s not alone in committing it.

One teaching tool in Toastmasters is the assignment of a “grammarian” at every meeting, one person whose job it is to listen for excellent uses of grammar, as well as those instances that could use some improvement. One time as grammarian, I caught my ballplayer friend using the term “ahmunna.” Any guesses as to what he was actually trying to say? How about I AM GOING TO? Five syllables condensed down to two or three, depending. Now he may be going gangbusters with his pitching school, but I can virtually guarantee he’d do even better if he made proper vocal skills a priority.

And so can you, when it comes to pitching (ha – what a great tie-in/pun!) your book. Whether you are speaking one-on-one in a 30-second elevator speech, giving a 30-second commercial at your favorite networking group, giving a radio or television interview, or giving a workshop or keynote speech, your enunciation should be a key component of your speaking (and marketing) strategy.

Want an example of the difference between excellent enunciation and someone who sloppily drops their -ings at the ends of words? Just go out into the world and start listening. In fact, read the last few sentences out loud in your natural style. Don’t over- or under-emphasize any aspect. Just say the words out loud. If you like, record yourself doing it, so you get a baseline for how you sound. Then go over and check out Jade Joddle on YouTube. OK, she’s British – but that shouldn’t affect your appreciation for her amazing diction and enunciation. And she’s got 75 videos on many different aspects of vocal quality that can help you improve your own speech patterns. Some are better, and more germane to this subject, than others – but there are many from which to choose. I think if all you do is make an effort to modulate and complete the ends of your words like Jade does, you’ll find your speaking skills vastly improved.

More than anything, your goal is to have people understand you when you speak. But important secondary goals might be to have them take note of you as a speaker, to remark that you are a good speaker, and/or to recommend you as a speaker to others. None of that will happen if you say writin’ instead of writing, fir instead of for, or gonna instead of going to.

If you really intend to use your book as a means of jump-starting a public speaking career or, conversely, speaking to sell more books, you might want to invest in a voice coach who can help you get the rest of the way toward your goal. Do your research and due diligence. Get references from past students, and where possible, look at before-and-after video comparisons of where the student started before hiring the coach, and where he or she is today.

Here’s to speaking your way to success!

Laura

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Summer Author Event

PHOENIX-AREA AUTHORS: If you or someone you know is an author in Phoenix, please consider participating in the Summer Author Event on August 16. This multi-author book signing and meet-and-greet will put you in front of hundreds of readers in a casual environment where you can sell and sign books. There are three levels of participation. The first 100 attendees will receive goody bags – and for just $25, you can put a promo for your book into the goody bags!  Learn more or register at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

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