“Only you speak the way you do”
This is a good question, but it is also a very broad one. I find it easier to think through examples. So I would like to ask instead: Who is YOUR favourite speaker?
- Are they famous? Or are they someone you know?
- Do they speak English or are they from your own country?
- What do you like about their voice?
- Do they speak quickly or slowly?
- Are they loud or quiet? Or are they somewhere in the middle?
- Do they have a low voice or a high voice?
- Do they have an accent?
I ask all of these questions because it is very important to think about what we like. The thing is: different people like different things. Plus what we like changes in different situations. For example, I like folk music, my friend likes rap music. I like to listen to dance music on the bus, but I like to listen to classical music before I go to bed.
Does that make one kind of music better than the other?
No. I don’t think so.
So, do you think that one speaker is better than the other?
Is your favourite speaker the same as mine?
When I think about my favourite speakers, I can’t think of the ONE thing that makes them great. They are all so different. Both in the way they speak and how they sound. Yet, they are all great. I like them all.
So it makes me wonder: we are all so unique. You have one voice to speak to the world. Only you can speak the way you do. So maybe it’s possible to like the way you speak too.
This is not always easy when you are a non-native speaker. I know the pain and embarrassment of having an accent that people a) don’t understand and/or b) find ‘really cute/funny/stupid.’ So, it’s ok, I’ve been there.* But please don’t let this stop you from speaking. You will never improve your speaking skills if you are embarrassed by the way you speak.
So now I have realised: the thing that makes my favourite speakers great is that they just speak.
That’s all you have to do to become a great speaker. Of course, there are other things that are nice (being clear, speaking with passion, speaking at a nice speed). These are qualities that I want to talk about in later posts.
Until then, though, just try speaking. Speak to your friends, speak to your family, speak to your colleagues. If no one is there, speak to yourself! You are your ideal partner: you don’t need to get embarrassed about your mistakes (no one can hear them). Plus no one can tell you to shut up, so you can talk as much as you want!
So go on, give it a go, have a try. Just speak. You are already great. Now practice being great.
* ‘I’ve been there’ is an expression which means ‘ I have had the same experience so I know how you feel.’