Professional Presence: Finding Your Voice

professional-presence

Picture yourself in this everyday office scenario:

The staff is gathered for a presentation on a new company initiative.

The presenter passes out their information, and in a monotone fashion proceeds to plod through the slideshow presentation on the topic with seemingly little enthusiasm.

At the end they announce, “We really want everyone to get excited about this.”

Are you excited?

Have you bought into your company’s new project?

Given the lackluster presentation, probably not!

 

Maybe this presenter really is excited about the initiative, but they don’t know how to convey that to others… or don’t even realize how their demeanor is being perceived by everyone in the room.

And what would the ramifications be if this had been a pitch to a client, or prospective investors?

The non-verbal communication in this situation was the difference between increased morale at the launching of a new project, and just another boring meeting!

 

The 7 Percent “Rule”

You may be familiar with a “rule” that states communication is only 7% verbal, the other 93% being vocal tones (38%) and facial expression (55%). While the studies from the late 1960s that originated this “rule” have been widely misinterpreted – and the results really only apply to the circumstances of the study – it was still a benchmark in recognizing how we interpret messages based on our physical sound and presence… and other studies still reinforce how nonverbal communication influences how we perceive messages from others.

 

Take for example, a later study indicating that the combination of many non-verbal cues had over 4 times the effect of simply verbal cues. And a study out of Harvard University published in 2003 showed how tone of voice increased or decreased subjects’ perception of politeness in statements and questions.

 

Even so, science may not always be able to pin down a statistic about our use of nonverbal cues… but the evidence exists in those won or lost clients, daily engagement with customers and co-workers, and surveys of employee satisfaction.

 

It’s What You Say, AND How You Say It

We know the words we choose are important… no one wants irrelevant, illogical information or interactions. But it’s not just our words – strictly the information – that influences others, and determines their perception of us. Even when our words are in the right, is that enough to convey our meaning? In the example above, the speaker’s overall tone hindered the message of company enthusiasm. No doubt you’ve experienced either embracing or rejecting projects, ideas, or initiatives because of the way the message was delivered to you.

 

1

Dr. Ann Utterback, a vocal coach exclusive to broadcasters, says that the world is looking for “comfortable communicators”: presenters who make you feel like you’re the only one with whom they’re interacting. In an interview with Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, she describes one aspect of this as ‘vocal energy’ – “focus and passion for what you’re saying.”

 

So just knowing how to run the slide software isn’t enough… the balance of what you’re thinking, feeling, and projecting creates the dynamism to win and keep customers, influence investors, and excite and engage those around your on your team.

 

2

Ultimately, your vocal presence can either enhance or break down your meaning.

And this presence is made up of many components… some you may feel comfortable with, and others that may need work in order to really find your voice, and allow others to hear your true meaning.

My corporate professional presence training breaks down these components:

Vocal quality

Vocal variance

Rate of speech

Accent clarity

Body posture and gestures

 

And you may be surprised how factors outside of your physical voice can be used to great effect in magnifying your “voice” and message:

Crafting a powerful story

Knowing when to speak, and when to listen

Adjusting responses to questions for different audiences

 

We’ll be exploring these components of your professional vocal presence in the weeks to come!

 

My corporate professional presence training engages the issues of vocal presence to increase productivity, create stronger client relationships, and improve clarity of internal and external presentations and processes.

Learn more and contact us today at AccentuateCommunication.com.

 

Watch Your Language! Knoxville Businesswoman Urging Florida Companies to Invest in Foreign­-Born Workforce

Local CEO and speech pathologist brings her expertise to Orlando’s emerging tech hub.

Watch Your Language! LMA

KNOXVILLE, TN – August 2016 – Speaking at the 2016 HR Florida Conference in Orlando, Knoxville-based speech pathologist and Accentuate Communication CEO Lisa Scott has a clear message for Florida businesses: Investing in the language skills of your foreign-born professionals is crucial to financial growth.

 

“Orlando is positioning itself as a hub for technology and start-ups, and has an opportunity to learn from the English skills work we’ve been doing with foreign-born professionals at major research labs in the Knoxville area,” said Scott. “Specifically, we’re helping foreign-born engineers improve their American accent to better relate to the Knoxville and surrounding communities, and minimize those communication breakdowns that cost companies billions every year.”

 

In Tennessee from 2000 to 2010, the number of foreign-born workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jumped more than 84 percent. And in Florida, almost one in four STEM workers with an advanced degree was a foreigner in 2010.

 

“The language frustration is real for companies with a significant non-native workforce,” said Scott. “They’re seeing grants slip through their fingers. They’re losing out on big clients. And many talented internationals can’t move up the ladder because their English just needs a little more work.”

 

And new research is now backing up how improved English-language skills are helping college-educated immigrants succeed all over America.

Invest in Yourself

In a 2015 survey of college-educated immigrants by IMPRINT (Immigrant Professional Integration), respondents who did not speak English as a primary language – but had strong English skills – were “dramatically more likely” to have achieved professional success than those who didn’t.

 

“This research proves what those of us in the field of foreign accent reduction have already known – that increased English-language proficiency correlates with all measure of immigrant economic success,” said Scott.

 

According to the Migration Policy Institute, over 41% of Tennessee’s foreign-born workforce – and nearly half of Florida’s – hold management, science, business, sales, or office jobs: fields where a heavy foreign accent and cross-cultural miscommunication can routinely cause costly delayed projects, missed funding opportunities, and “brain waste” of skilled immigrant professionals.

 

But Gallup research is showing that companies are ignoring this social component of business and project management.

 

“That’s where Accentuate comes in, to help companies take hold of the potential their international team already possesses. Clear speech – and strategies to understand each other cross-culturally – are the missing link for effective, happy employees and increased profits for businesses.”

Scott is a featured speaker at the upcoming HR Florida Conference on Monday, August 29 with her session “Beer and Bounced Checks: Why Diversity Initiatives Can’t Stop at the Front Door.”  

The 2016 HR Florida Conference & Expo runs August 29-31 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, attracting over 1,500 human resource professionals from across the state of Florida and the world.

 

   LisaAuthorityBox-August2014-vertical2

As a certified speech-language pathologist and CEO of Accentuate Communication, Lisa Scott is trusted with accent reduction services at several of the country’s top research labs, and has influenced a myriad of other world-class institutions in her over 25 years of experience.

Watch Your Language! Florida Companies Urged to Invest in Foreign-Born Workforce

New research for Miami area shows immigrant professionals – with a little help – are ready to move up the ladder.

 

Watch Your Language! LMA

 

KNOXVILLE, TN – August 2016 – Speaking at the 2016 HR Florida Conference in Orlando, speech pathologist and Accentuate Communication CEO Lisa Scott has a clear message for Florida businesses: Investing in the language skills of your foreign-born professionals is crucial to financial growth.

 

“I’m especially interested in the high diversity of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and excited for the potential that companies there have to reduce the English language and cultural barriers even further – to minimize those communication breakdowns that cost companies billions every year,” said Scott.

Invest in Yourself

New research on foreign-born professionals in Miami is especially encouraging. In a 2015 survey by IMPRINT (Immigrant Professional Integration), Miami-area college-educated immigrants were less likely to experience job-search discrimination and more likely to have a strong social network than immigrants in the other major cities surveyed.

 

This puts well-educated Miami immigrant professionals at greater potential to succeed financially and professionally from these social benefits.

 

“This research proves what those of us in the field of foreign accent reduction have already known – that increased English-language proficiency correlates with all measure of immigrant economic success,” said Scott.

 

According to the Migration Policy Institute, nearly half (49.7%) of Florida’s foreign-born workforce hold management, business, sales, or office jobs: fields where a heavy foreign accent and cross-cultural miscommunication can routinely cause costly delayed projects, missed funding opportunities, and “brain waste” of skilled immigrant professionals.

 

“The language frustration is real for companies with a significant non-native workforce,” said Scott. “They’re seeing grants slip through their fingers. They’re losing out on big clients. And many talented internationals can’t move up the ladder because their English just needs a little more work.”

 

But Gallup research is showing that companies are ignoring this social component of business and project management.

 

“That’s where Accentuate comes in, to help companies take hold of the potential their international team already possesses. Clear speech – and strategies to understand each other cross-culturally – are the missing link for effective, happy employees and increased profits for businesses.”

Scott is a featured speaker at the upcoming HR Florida Conference on Monday, August 29 with her session “Beer and Bounced Checks: Why Diversity Initiatives Can’t Stop at the Front Door.”  

The 2016 HR Florida Conference & Expo runs August 29-31 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, attracting over 1,500 human resource professionals from across the state of Florida and the world.

 

    LisaAuthorityBox-August2014-vertical2

 

As a certified speech-language pathologist and CEO of Accentuate Communication, Lisa Scott is trusted with accent reduction services at several of the country’s top research labs, and has influenced a myriad of other world-class institutions in her over 25 years of experience.

Summertime Sounds: The difference between ‘S’ and ‘SH’

We’re in the middle of summer now, and most of us (especially if we’re landlocked) dream of heading to the beach this time of year. Hearing the crashing waves… getting the sand in your toes… soaking up the sunshine… Americans love enjoying the beach as much as everyone around the world.

A popular beach-inspired “tongue twister” (a phrase that is difficult to say) goes like this:

She sells seashells by the seashore

Not even most Americans can say that quickly without switching up the ‘S’ and ‘SH’ sounds!

-She Sells Seashells- LI

So let’s use this little phrase to hear and practice the difference between the ‘S’ and ‘SH’ sounds… an important distinction no matter what the season.

And with practice, you just may be able to say this phrase “ten times fast,” as Americans like to challenge each other to do with tongue twisters!

Don’t stop with my video… use these other beach-themed words to practice the ‘S’ and ‘SH’ sounds.

Practice Saying (1)

Practice Saying (2)

Practice Saying (3)

If this video helped you, or if you’d like more information on accent reduction, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

Have a safe summer season in the sunshine! (Say that ten times fast!)

 

America Needs Your Voice

 

Happy 4th

It’s said that America is a melting pot of the nations, and the diversity that the cultures of the world bring here is what makes it unique. I love that professionals from all over the world can work here together. And I want to tell you – the beauty of America is that you don’t need to be born here to impact your co-workers, your friends, your cities, your field of work or study, and beyond. America needs voices and insight from cultures around the globe… that means you!

Probably the most common way to celebrate July 4th is with outdoor barbecues spent with family and friends… and everyone’s favorite, fireworks! But underneath the holiday festivities, Americans are truly proud of the freedoms we enjoy – freedom of speech being one of the most cherished, and certainly very close to my heart. So today on Independence Day, I want to share about your freedom of speech in America, how we need your intelligence and ideas, and how your speech can bring about freedom!

Happy Independence Day… and I hope this holiday reminds you that you are important to America!

Clear speech can help bring freedom to your life… You can get more information on accent reduction and a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

 

 

Prepositions of Place: “In” “On” & “At”

Last week we discussed how the small connecting words of the English language are just as important as mastering a larger vocabulary… but the correct usage of these tiny words can sometimes fall through the cracks for non-native English speakers. You may start to use words like “in,” “on,” and “at” interchangeably, when they actually each have a specific purpose. Incorrect usage of these prepositions can cause native English speakers to question your fluency, or become confused by your meaning.

 

when do you say (place)

 

Last week, we looked at how to use “in,” “on,” and “at” when describing time… This week, we’ll follow the same principle when using them to describe locations.

 

If you can remember this order, “IN, ON, AT”… then you can remember this general rule for how to describe places:

 

gen rule place

 

See again how “IN, ON, AT” progress from general to specific locations as you read their descriptions:

 

Prepositions of Place

 

I have some more sample sentences for you again this week. Take a look and choose the correct prepositions for each location.

 

Fill In Place

 

This video I created a few years ago further explains the usage of “IN, ON, AT” with regard to location beyond what I’ve detailed here. Check it out and then look below to see if you got the sample sentences correct!

 

 

Answers Place

If this video and information helped you, or if you’d like more information on accent reduction, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

Prepositions of Time: “In,” “On,” & “At”

Have you ever asked a co-worker to join you “on 3:00” for a meeting?

Perhaps you mentioned to someone that your birthday was “at Friday.”

Though you may not have realized it, you were using these prepositions of time incorrectly!

 

When do you say

 

In trying to grasp a larger vocabulary, a student of English may start to overlook the small connecting words that bind language together, but these prepositional words have a great impact on others’ perception of your mastery of the language. Using them incorrectly could cause confusion with co-workers or make you feel insecure in your speech.

 

If you can remember this order, “IN, ON, AT”… then you can remember this general rule for how to describe points in time:

 

General Rule

 

See how “IN, ON, AT” progress from general to specific as you read their descriptions:

 

Prepositions of time

 

At the beginning of this article, the correct usage would mean the meeting is “at 3:00,” and that your birthday is “on Friday.”

 

Take a look at the following practice sentences and see if you can choose the correct prepositions.

 

Fill in white

 

Now check out my video from a few years ago that further explains the usage of “IN, ON, AT” and will help you practice how to use them… and then see if you got the sample sentences correct below!

 

 

Answers white

If this video and information helped you, or if you’d like more information on accent reduction, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

Invest in Yourself: the High Cost of Poor Communication

Workplace interaction… It’s practically a nuanced art form to balance all the relationships and conversations we have in a work day with those around us. But this becomes even more pronounced when language becomes a stumbling block because of a heavy foreign accent or insufficient English language skills. And communication breakdown has a shockingly high cost for companies and personally for the international worker.

high cost

The U.S. Department of Labor just released its 2015 data detailing the demographics of the foreign­-born workforce in America. Of the 26.3 million foreign­born workers, 47.4% are in environments that rely heavily on English language skills.

12.4 million

That’s a lot of people who probably do not speak English as their primary language!

The Cost for Business

When communication breaks down, it results in a hemorrhage of money – in the billions – for business.

400 businesses

In The Holmes Report survey, each company lost an average of $62.4 million… from breakdowns that included employee misunderstandings, misinformation, and job function.

Miscommunication in the workplace comes in a variety of forms. One common form is a literal misunderstanding of the English language between those millions of foreign-­born professionals and their co­-workers.

The Personal Cost

As I explained in a previous article, foreign nationals who have a heavy accent are often misunderstood at work and out in the community, are not working up to their potential because of misunderstandings, and may be disengaged with their co­workers and communities.

Research is showing businesses are ignoring this human component of project management.

Gallup reports that failed and over­budget projects can often be traced back to management tactics that ignore the human, emotional, and social aspects of employees. Merely controlling the rational processes (budgeting, deadlines) of a project is not enough to prevent project failure.

Furthermore, new research just recently released from IMPRINT (Immigrant Professional Integration) is showing how crucial social support and English language skills are for the success of foreign­-born workers in America. IMPRINT surveyed over 4,000 college­-educated immigrants in six major U.S. cities, and found their success was tied to their support system:

44% immigrants

In fact, those who have “many” friends and family were also more than twice as likely to to have achieved career success as those with “no” friends and family.

And, improving their English proficiency also influenced their degree of professional success:

3 times

The key to success for our businesses, cities, and individual international workers and their families lies in social immersion and continued English language skills.

How Should Business Respond?

If you’re a business owner or Human Resources manager with multiple foreign­-born professionals working for your company… engage them about their accent.

Offer to pay for intensive seminars at work on accent reduction with a qualified speech pathologist.

Offer ongoing individual accent reduction training at your workplace.

Invest in your own company by investing in the clear speech and support system of your foreign-born employees.

This is exactly what I do for corporations –including Oak Ridge National Laboratory – and my courses have improved the speech clarity of international professionals by up to 70% in as little as 12 weeks.

How Should You Respond as an International Professional?

Talk with your company about your desire to reduce your accent – they may never have thought of this or know that this training is available!

If there are several immigrant professionals in your workplace, come together to engage your company on this issue, and to support each other in your accent reduction.

But also don’t wait for your company to take the lead – there are steps you can take today to get started on clearer speech.

One easy step is to enroll in my online course coming up June 9!

Speaking and Learning Together

This course combines the support system you need with individualized training from me using my proven methods.

AND, it’s at a much lower rate than my usual one­-on-­one instruction – which makes it perfect for asking your company for reimbursement for this invaluable training.

Register here and find out about all the great resources this course provides!

Investing in clear communication has payoffs for everyone.

Companies: Reduce your bottom line from miscommunication and prevent costly project failures.

Individuals: Improve your professional and earnings success.

Visit Accentuate Communication for more company resources or Lose My Accent for free individual resources.

3 Ways to Slow It Down: Connecting with International Co­Workers

We’re living and working in an age of international connectedness. Your co-­workers or clients may actually be living overseas and speak English as a second or third language, connected to you through internet chats and teleconferencing. Or, you may work daily in person with non-­native English speakers who have been in the U.S. for several years or only a few months.

No matter the situation, you need to be able to effectively communicate with your team.

In my last article on communicating with non-­native English speakers, I outlined how to keep language simple in the workplace. Today, we’ll talk about slowing down.

Slow It Down!

Right now I’m going to ask you to stop and remember:

• A foreign language class you took

• A time you were shopping in an international market

• Any time you overheard a foreign language conversation

Do you remember how the other language sounded? Was it incredibly fast and jumbled to you? Did you wonder how they could talk so quickly?

An international worker can feel just this way when trying to understand our language as well.

Be Aware of Your Speech.

You know how it is when you get on a roll with an idea… your speech speeds up as you get excited, and your words can hardly keep up with your brain. Or perhaps you’re pressed for time, and you rush your message or instructions. Even the everyday pace of your language can be too fast.

Be aware small

When speaking with an international worker or client, take the time to evaluate how quickly you’re actually talking. Even asking your co­-worker, “Am I talking too quickly?” shows that you care that they understand you. However, be aware that they may answer that you are not, in order to not seem unintelligent or rude.

Slow Down, but Don’t Exaggerate.

When we slow down our speech, we tend to start over-­enunciating our words or stretching them out. Try to avoid this.

Exaggerating small

Exaggerating words makes your listener feel belittled, and your speech no longer comes across the way English actually sounds. Again, just be aware of your pacing instead.

Slowing Down Saves Time.

It seems counter-intuitive, but we all know that taking our time on any project produces a better quality product and fewer headaches later on because of mistakes. Your language in the workplace is no different.

Miscommunication smallThis is especially true for highly technical environments, in which the precision of instructions and language is vital. Take a few extra seconds to slow your speech and make sure your message is clear, and you’ll be glad later that you did!

If you’d like more strategies on communicating with the non­-native English speakers in your workplace, or would like to offer your workers accent reduction classes or seminars, please contact Lisa Scott for a consultation… and visit AccentuateCommunication.com for more on how we can help you break down cross­-cultural workplace barriers.

Easter Traditions : Know your Vowels and Vocabulary

learn to say... easter (1)

This weekend, Americans are once again celebrating another springtime holiday: Easter. For many, Easter is an important holiday in their Christian faith. For others, it’s a welcoming of the spring season and new life.

did you know... easter

You’re probably seeing Easter candy in the aisles at all the stores, and hearing friends and co-workers talk about their plans for this weekend. Perhaps they’re having a big family meal after their church service, or attending an Easter egg hunt with their children at a public park.

In this video, I’ll take you through the Easter story and many American Easter traditions, both religious and secular. I’ll also help you with several vowel sounds and how to pronounce the “R” sound, while we explore Easter phrases you should know to be able to talk about the holiday with the Americans in your life.

If this video helped you, or if you’d like more information on accent reduction, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

And however you celebrate, I hope you have a Happy Easter and a beautiful spring season!