Credit to Vampire Weekend for their song with the same line. And the same concept. It sounds like they’re saying that people who are more concerned about diction than their relationships may just be doing it wrong.
People are very concerned about their speech. They want to sound precise and articulate. They want to improve their diction and elocution because they think that’s what’ll get them ahead in the world.
Is “diction” what we need to achieve those goals?
You can improve your speech & communication skills. And if you do it the right way it results in great relationships. And you come across as smart. Win-win.
How to improve your elocution.
They also learned to improve the sound of their speaking voices so they’re compelling and magnetic. A full resonant speaking voice attracts and maintains people’s attention.
Why improve your elocution?
What you really want is to convey your message clearly and concisely. You want people to think you’re smart and find you to be someone they want to be with or hire.
Most people think the way to achieve those goals is to improve their diction, work on their pronunciation of sounds.
But the truth is: That doesn’t work. Working on your diction makes you sound very staccato.
Communicating is About Relationships Not About Sounding Smart.
Since the beginning of time when I started my business a lot of people haven’t understood what I do. They didn’t want me to listen to them speak for fear I was critiquing them left & right. 🙂
They thought that the way they pronounced their words was what I was listening to. It wasn’t. To this day many still think I work on pronunciation.
Not only is improving your pronunciation not going to make you sound smart but it makes your speech harder to process. Harder for people to understand your message. So yes, you do need to sound smart. but you may be going about it the wrong way.
So yes, you do have to improve your speech & communication skills. Resulting in amazing, strong relationships.
The Oxford Comma + Elocution.
The song by vampire weekend of the same name as this article is about a girl who cares more about elocution and perfection of things in her life than the people in her life. It struck me as apropos for all the speaking training I do.
Many people come to me thinking they have to pop their “t”s and over pronounce their “th” sounds. That leads to confusion. Not great relationships.
How to be eloquent and sound smart? Don’t Try.
I get it. We need people to think we’re smart. We need it to get ahead in our lives. There seems to be a pervasive misconception that if you pop your “t”s or pronounce each syllable strongly that you’ll sound smart. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
If you want to sound smart, talk less and be genuine.
Please don’t over-pronounce your words. Letters? In English, they mean almost nothing. Each letter can have multiple pronunciations. And each sound can be produced by multiple letters and combinations of letters.
There are 5 vowel letters in English. But guess what? There are 16 vowel sounds! Actually, I make it 17 because I count the “verbal apostrophe.” It has to do with intonation.
Have you heard the word “deny”? That word has an apostrophe. We don’t say deenai. We say d’nai. We don’t say tooday. We say t’day. The list goes on & on. So don’t over-pronounce but do under-pronounce. You, consequently, become a smooth speaker.
5 dollar words.
You don’t have to use a bunch of jargon & 5 dollar words to make people think you’re smart. It’s really just condescending.
The most normal & cool people sound amazing until they get up on stage or talk in an interview. Then it’s all staccato speech and often over-the-top jargon. You can learn how to speak better so people think you’re smart & love listening to you.
Speech is about Relationships
When you can take a complex topic & make it understandable & fun for your listener–that’s when you sound smart. To appear smart, you must be crystal clear, persuasive, authoritative, credible & warm.
It’s about having relationships that are easy to initiate, easy to maintain, and where both parties get what they need. It’s about making people understand you quickly and thoroughly and avoiding misunderstandings. You can do this with your communication skills.
The fact is that human communication skills are not evolving as fast as our world, our society. The complexity of the situations in which humans find themselves has advanced at unprecedented rates. This ain’t your grandpa’s world, folks.
There are a couple of other problems here. We need to realize that no one’s perfect. No one was born with perfect communication skills but that our ability to get our message across so we get what we need out of life is of the utmost importance. Everyone has to improve speech & communication skills.
Improve Your Elocution
If you keep challenging yourself & putting yourself into more and more anxiety-ridden situations–If you want to get ahead in the world make sure your message is clear.
Most of all, make sure you listen to others & you’re kind to others. Put some time in to improve speech & your communication skills. I bet ya there’s nothing else that you think you should be born doing perfectly.
I’m always telling you guys to think about your call-to-action so let’s make mine super clear:
- Make sure you have great relationships with successful communiques.
- If you’re not getting as many people to do what you tell them, then analyze what’s wrong & fix it.
- Let’s forgive others’ speech mistakes and forgive our own. We’re all evolving together.