Executing excellent elocution is a difficult skill to master. We’ve all been there, whether you’re making a formal presentation at work, or a speech at a social event, nerves can take their toll and the beautiful words you prepared and practised come out as something entirely different. Public speaking is never an easy thing, no matter how well some people pull it off even they can get butterflies beforehand. An elocution course will help you improve how you pronounce and enounce your words so you can better your projection and communication skills.
You don’t have to be the King of England with a stammer to take on an elocution course (anyone seen the 2010 award winning film, The King’s Speech?). Whether you want to improve your communication skills because you have some kind of speech impediment or whether you just want to soften your accent, elocution courses can really help with any struggles you have with your speech.
Elocution is great for people in a number of professions also. From the sales person who has to give a lot of presentations and pitch ideas or products to the aspiring radio or television presenter or broadcaster, a course in elocution is a great way to perfect your communication skills and really help develop your career.
What will a course involve?
Courses can either be group based or individual, but even group sessions tend to be fairly small so the tutor can work closely with you and what you need most help with. As people’s issues with their speech varies per individual, courses do differ, so a bit of research into what a course will specifically entail will go a long way to help you make the best possible choice.
Courses can be booked one by one but it is likely that they will be spread over a number of sessions, perhaps over one or two months. The longer the course you take, the more time you will have to improve on your elocution in greater depth.
Most courses will begin with some kind of overview of what will take place which will be followed by vocal warm ups and exercises to loosen you up. From there it will vary depending on what you or others in your class specifically want help with. Your elocution tutor is likely to assess what you struggle and need help with and then use the right techniques and exercises so you can overcome it.
Physically, tutors will help strengthen the vocal muscles involved in speech as well as help you with your breathing techniques. As well as those kinds of exercises, you will cover articulation, intonation, word stress patterns, syllable lengths and rhythm in delivery as well many other aspects of speech. Some courses will have you learning how to properly speak the ‘Queen’s English’!
The world of linguistics is a very complicated one and the terms used to describe certain speech traits, disorders or tendencies are just as complex. Here are some for you to get your head around...
Apraxia of speech (AOS) – AOS is an oral motor speech disorder. This is where the brain can’t really work with the mouth muscles to create the movement for speech properly. This may have been a result of a stroke or a progressive illness.
Intonation – This is how the pitch of your speech varies when it rises and falls during sentences. Correct intonation is important for trying to get across a message properly with emphasis on certain words.
Malapropism – This is when someone mistakenly replaces a word with similar sounding word. For example, Former US President George W. Bush once said, ‘I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened.’ Authoritarian used instead of authoritative is quite the blooper for a US President.
Spoonerism – This is a common error in which people accidently mix up corresponding vowels and consonants, sometimes on purpose for comical reasons. To use George W. Bush as an example again, he once said, ‘If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow.’ (Instead of tariffs and barriers)