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To Get Ahead .... Watch Your Words!


March 24th, 2015

- Updated on

June 14, 2018 - 1:17pm
In our last blog, we covered a recent executive coaching engagement success story that demonstrated the unfortunate consequences of having a regional accent; and the incredible impact that more ‘standard’ diction and communication can have on image, executive presence and “promote-ability.”
More than one study has revealed the presence of discrimination in hiring based on regional accents. One study, Stanford graduate, Taylor Phillips found that our accents can trigger stereotypic perceptions; and that low intelligence and low wealth are strong, common stereotypes associated with U.S. Southerners.

Do you have a regional accent? Have you wondered if it’s holding you back?

In this post, we share some tips for strengthening your speech communication and professional presence. It worked for our executive coaching client and it can for you too, whatever your regional accent!
  • Record your voice while reading a book aloud. Most of us have never really heard our speech as others do. There are free voice recording apps on every smartphone platform!
  • Identify popular slang, grammar, and regional accent recurring in your speech. Are you swearing, overusing “awesome” or “ya’ll,” or driving your “cah” (car)? Ask your colleagues or friends outside your region for input, they’ll be delighted to poke a little fun at your linguistics!
  • Decide which words/phrases you want to better pronounce or articulate. There are 4 vocal characteristics. Use your recording to assess your rate, pitch, tone and volume.
  • Keep a troublesome word list. Create and continually add words/phrases you’d like to change or eliminate.
  • Implement daily pronunciation practice. Use our diction flash cards and use your daily drive time to practice these vocal exercises.
  • Establish a piggy bank penalty (like a “swear jar”) for swearing, mispronunciations or improper grammar. Add $10, $20 or $100 for each transgression! Hint: The bigger the commitment, the quicker the correction!
  • Consult with a speech professional certified in accent reduction or an Executive Coach with specialized communication expertise. To find a certified speech therapist, check out the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website.
  • Read and implement 12 Steps to Power Presence by John Baldoni

Oneida Werger brings extensive experience in accelerating individual performance and the business growth of Fortune 100 & 500 companies to her role as VP, Team and Leadership Development at A.J. O’Connor Associates. With over 20 years of management and consulting experience, Oneida is recognized for developing and delivering programs in leadership, organizational development, change management, sales, diversity, and retention. Oneida earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in Organizational Communication and Psychology from Western Kentucky University.