In a bid to ensure that students aren’t disadvantaged in the future, sixth forms and colleges are launching new elocution and etiquette lessons.
Despite being able to compete on an academic level, many pupils from comprehensive schools feel unable to match their peers in terms of confidence, poise, elocution and public speaking.
At Newham Collegiate Sixth Form, for example, at least 95% of students secured places at Russell Group universities. Upon graduating, however, many of these individuals found it difficult to gain entry in graduate schemes and the wider workplace. With the Sutton Trust and Social Mobility Commission highlighting that pupils from private schools are five times more likely to reach the top of their chosen professions, extra focus is now being placed on developing presentational prowess and social skills.
What is elocution training?
Elocution training enhances the way you speak and enables you to communicate more effectively. By improving pronunciation, vocalisation, diction, intonation, modulation and enunciation, individuals can alter their image, communicate with ease and boost their self-confidence.
As many people feel uncomfortable about the way they speak or verbally communicate, undertaking elocution training can be an effective way to overcome these issues and learn new ways to engage with others.
Whilst your accent or the way you speak shouldn’t necessarily matter, in reality it does. People routinely ascribe certain characteristics or traits to individuals, based on the way they converse. Unfortunately, a strong accent or unclear diction can mean missing out on a whole host of opportunities, including university placements, job offers and promotions.
Who can benefit from elocution training?
Effective elocution lessons encompass a number of areas, and almost everyone can benefit from this type of training. Whether you’re particularly conscious of your accent, you struggle to pronounce certain words, or you simply want to improve your communication skills, elocution training can help you to achieve your objectives.
As the importance of effective communication can be overlooked in schools and colleges, many people who choose to undertake elocution training are adults. When people start to be disadvantaged by their speech patterns or verbal communications as they get older, they tend to realise the importance of elocution and actively seek out training opportunities.
Although a significant number of elocution students are non-native English speakers who want to ensure they can communicate effectively in the UK, elocution training isn’t solely aimed at assisting people for whom English is a second language.
In fact, the biggest uptake in elocution training has been amongst native English speakers. As language has evolved, the way we speak has become more relaxed in many environments. When individuals find themselves in situations which require a more professional or nuanced approach to elocution, they don’t always have the knowledge or experience they require. By improving their communication skills and undertaking elocution training, however, they can enter any environment and communicate clearly and effectively.
Is it good for young people?
When we learn a skill as a child or young person, it tends to stay with us forever. Studies have routinely shown that younger brains are more flexible, which may explain why it seems easier to learn things at a young age.
Impressing the importance of good communication skills on young people is certainly worthwhile, particularly if they are also given the opportunity to develop their own conversational style. While many young people are aware of the disadvantages associated with slang and improper elocution, few are given the tools they need to make appropriate changes.
By giving children and young people the opportunity to undertake elocution training, parents, caregivers and teachers can help to ensure that they benefit from these communication skills throughout their lives.
However, it isn’t only children and young people who find elocution training to be beneficial. For adults, the advantages associated with improved elocution may be even easier to identify. If you’ve struggled to progress past the interview stage when applying for a new job or you’ve been unable to connect well with your managers, for example, the benefits of elocution training can often be seen immediately.
Does it increase confidence?
Absolutely! Almost everyone who undertakes elocution training feels more confident. Whether you’re aiming to soften your accent, improve modulation or correct intonation, learning how to express yourself ensures you’ll have more self-confidence and self-esteem.
Although elocution training assists people when they are speaking with another individual on a one-to-one basis, it can also be highly effective in relation to public speaking. If you feel more confident and articulate, you are less likely to be intimidated when speaking in front of a crowd, for example. If you’re regaling new associates with a humorous anecdote, addressing shareholders at your company’s AGM or trying to impress a panel of interviewers, elocution training will allow you to communicate your views appropriately, professionally and eloquently.
Tips for improving elocution
While everyone wants to improve different elements of their speech, there are some sure-fire ways to improve your elocution. Enunciation is an issue which affects many people, for example, but it’s one that’s easy to fix. When you’re speaking, be aware of any letters you ‘miss out’ or ‘drop’. G, T and D are commonly dropped, which can be very noticeable when you’re speaking and may sound like you’re slurring one word into the next. For example…
‘Going’ becomes ‘gonna’, ‘I’m playing cricket and rounders’ becomes, ‘I’m playin’ cricket an’ rounders’ and so on.
Take the time to enunciate clearly and ensure that you pronounce every syllable of the words, regardless of how self-conscious this may make you feel at first. With enough practice, improved enunciation will soon become second nature.
In addition to this, a downward inflection can help you to appear more confident, self-assured and authoritative. Many people, particularly teenagers and young adults, use upspeak, which involves placing an upward inflection at the end of a sentence. However, this can make you sound uncertain, unsure and lacking in confidence. With appropriate enunciation and a confident downward inflection, you can ensure your verbal communication is clear, confident and composed.