How to Make Yourself Understood with a Heavy Accent
Posted: Aug 30, 2017
You submitted a resume for your dream job, and you just got a call back for an interview. You’re preparing for the meeting. You’ve got the perfect business attire, and you’re bringing a second copy of your resume. There’s only one concern – you’re from another country and you speak differently from the people around you.
While a heavy accent can be thought of as exciting and sophisticated, it can also make it more difficult for people to understand you. Not only can an accent make it harder to get a job, but it can cause issues in your career. Even though you don’t want to lose your identity as an individual, you must make yourself understood by coworkers, clients and your superiors.
1. Stay Calm
When someone gets nervous, they often speak fast, stumble over the words and mumble. It can be difficult to be understood, especially if you speak with an accent. To be more easily understood, stay calm, take a deep breath and speak slowly. Keep your voice lower, which makes it easier for others to know what you’re saying. A bonus is that others usually respond and speak in similar tones, making it easier for you to understand them as well.
2. Write Down the Important Stuff
If you’re worried about someone understanding what you have to say, follow up with a memo about the important points. One way to make sure there are no communication problems is by putting everything in black and white. Use an email or set a reminder on their calendar. Regardless of whether you have an accent or not, it’s best to not rely on verbal communication on important tasks.
3. Give Permission for Questions
Start out a meeting or phone call with something like "Feel free to stop me anytime to ask questions." This makes the other person feel comfortable about asking for clarification if they cannot understand you. It’s even a good idea to periodically ask if they understood what you just said or if it brought up any questions.
4. Work with a Speech Reduction Coach
A speech reduction coach can help you learn how to enunciate clearly so everyone can understand you no matter where they’re from. The coach will train you on many techniques that ensure clear communication. They may teach you breathing or special speaking techniques. While it may not completely remove your entire accent, it will enable others to follow the conversation without being distracted by it.
In fact, the job of a speech reduction coach isn’t to make you sound too general or like everyone else. It’s to ensure you speak clearly with any accent you have.
Don’t worry about getting or keeping a job even if you speak differently from everyone else in the company. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to make sure you’re always heard and understood. Clear communication is possible regardless of where you come from or how you speak.
Claudette Roche is a dialect coach reduction in the Vero Beach, FL area. She teaches foreign and American accents to actors and business persons/executives. In 2010 she was named as one of The Top 5 Voice Coaches by Hollywood Weekly Magazine.
Claudette Roche is a dialect coach who teaches accent coach.