One of the trickiest skills to learn when improving professional speech skills or improving an American English accent is producing clear connected speech. Words that you may be able to produce correctly on their own may suddenly seem unclear or less understandable when used in the context of a sentence or in conversation. This is because the words that are said before and after a word can influence the way you produce a sound. The natural rise and fall of your speech in conversation can also negatively affect the way your speech is understood.
One common problem is leaving off the final consonant sounds of words. Sometimes in the rush of trying to get out our ideas, we blend our words together and drop off final sounds. Producing incomplete words can make you sound less crisp and professional and can make your speech difficult to understand, especially if English is not your first language. Some of the most commonly dropped sounds in running speech are consonant clusters. For example, many people may say the word most as “mos”, dropping the final /t/. This same pattern is also common in words like don’t , which many people pronounce as “don”. Avoid the consonant drop trap when speaking! Some sounds may be a little more subtle in running speech, but be careful not to drop them completely. Make sure that each and every sound is represented.
Sometimes it’s not simply dropping a final sound that’s the problem, but merging two different words into one. This is often seen in phrases like want to and going to, which are often merged into “wanna” and “gonna”. This pattern can be acceptable in day-to-day, casual speech. However, in a business setting, it can make you seem lazy and unprofessional.
Take a look at the video below to hear Corporate Speech Solutions founder and president, Jayne Latz, provide some strategies for improving your voice clarity in running speech:
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