How Managers Can Assess an Employee’s Need for Speech Coaching

Certain public speaking problems can be solved in a solitary fashion.  If you are unhappy with your powerpoint design, pick up Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.  If you occasionally stumble over words, watch this blog post, and use a metronome to slow down your speech.  If you feel scattered while presenting, write out a set of short bullet points, and stick to them!  But there are certain public speaking problems they may require a collaborative approach.  Here are some public speaking problems that require coaching:

  1. Panic – if your employee is badly stumbling over their words, or unable to get through their presentations, that is a surefire sign that they need coaching.  A coach can teach them to breathe properly and to prepare themselves mentally before they present.
  2. Very Low Volume – if you are asking your employee to speak up on a regular basis, it may be that they need voice coaching.  A coach can help them breathe from their diaphragm, and utilize chest and face resonance to enhance their voice.
  3. Very Thick Accent – If your employee is unable to pronounce core business words, well, yea you guessed it…they definitely need coaching!  A coach can help them articulate vowel and consonant sounds, and rehearse the words they are using at work.

A good coach usually starts with a thorough evaluation and then draws up a personalized, practical lesson plan.  Be sure the coach you work with is assigning homework, and accessing progress as well.

How HR Managers Should Approach an Employee who Needs Accent Reduction Training

Do you have a talented employee with poor English skills?  Do you wish you could help him or her but are afraid of coming across as insensitive or discouraging?  Here are five tips for helping your employee get the help they need:

  1. Begin by emphasizing the employee’s value to the company.  If your employee feels that they are valued, they are more likely to embrace constructive feedback.
  2. Ask the employee how they feel about their English skills.  Often, people with poor speech know they need to get better.  If your employee is capable of accurately assessing his or her deficiencies it will be easier for you to get their buy-in for training.
  3. Avoid using the phrase “accent reduction” –  the term tends to put people off.  Begin by suggesting “articulation courses” or “speech enhancement”.
  4. Make the lessons voluntary.  It’s never a good idea to force training on an employee who doesn’t want it.  Your employee will become bitter, and the training will not go well.
  5. Offer to compensate your employee for lessons.  Think about the added value your company will have when your top talent can truly express themselves in important meetings!